It’s hard to believe it’s been three weeks already since Scott Hetsko returned to work.  All of us at News 8 want to take a moment to say thank you to his heart donor and his heart donor’s family.  We’re all too aware that because of a shortage of donors, too many people die waiting for life-saving transplants.  Consider this fact:
         According to health experts, 10% of all the people in the U.S. waiting for organ transplants, are New Yorkers.  But New Yorkers represent only 3% of registered organ donors.  That’s why our gratitude for donors and their families, such as Kathy and Kevin Baker, runs so deep.
         The Bakers feel the loss of their daughter every day, but there’s never been a moment when they doubted their decision upon her death.  “She’ll always be such a part of me, but she lives on,” says Kathy Baker.  “She lives on in the truest sense of the word.  Her heart is still beating.”
         Michelle was their daughter, and her death was sudden and unexpected.  
Although she wasn’t a registered organ donor, the Bakers consented to donation when asked.  In 2014, 108 donor organs saved the lives of 100 people in the Finger Lakes Region.  Michelle was one of the donors.”  One patient received Michelle’s heart.  Another, her liver and kidneys.  That was May of 2014. One year later, Kathy and Kevin met one of their daughter’s organ recipients.  
       “To experience that and see that see how grateful and what it meant to him, because he would not be here today without that, it’s such an overwhelming – the emotions are so overwhelming,” Kevin says.
“She’s gone, she’s gone.  Whether she was a donor or not,” Kathy says.  “But he lives.  My daughter’s gone but there would have been a man, his family would have been grieving too.”
         A few months before Michelle died, she and Kathy went to Europe.
Kathy wrote a journal about the trip.  In the quiet moments after they decided to donate Michelle’s organs, Kathy read to her daughter.  “I had the time to take my journal into the hospital and read it to her, so I am so grateful,” she says.  “I’m so grateful for the time and for the 36 years I had with this wonderful person.  She is still touching lives, and she lives on.”  
         Michelle’s corneas were also donated, which means she helped save someone’s eyesight.
          Please consider becoming an organ donor.
          To sign up—- visit the website for Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network.
          The web address is donorrecovery.org.