SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Division of Transplantation
4th Annual Celebration of Transplantation
SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the only center in New York affililiated with the Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Program (MOTTEP) based in Washington DC. MOTTEP works closely with the Mickey Mantle Foundation for the purpose of raising awareness of organ donation and transplantation and its value in saving lives.
On July 18, 2001 Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, together with MOTTEP and the Mickey Mantle Foundation hosted the 4th annual celebration of transplantation at Gracie Mansion. There were many sports celebreties participating in the transplant celebration including former Yankee legends Yogi Berra and Keith Hernandez.
One of our own transplant recipients, Wessie Marbury received special recognition for her extraordinary efforts to raise organ donor awareness throughout the metropolitan area. Wessie has had a successful kidney transplant for the past 12 years and although they do not know each other, she remains eternally grateful to her donor's family for the gift of life which was given to her. She prays for them every day and for the thousands of others who are still waiting for the gift of life.
SUNY Downstate Donors Receive Gift of Life Award
As part of New York States'efforts to recognize the life-saving contribution of organ and tissue donors and to raise public awareness of the critical need for organ and tissue donation, legislation was signed by Governor Pataki in 2002 establishing the New York State Gift of Life Medal of Honor. At a ceremony to honor those who have given the gift of life at the famed Copacabana Club in New York City on December 5, 2004, Medals of Honor were given to each of 800 donors and donor families, including ten living donors from Downstate.
For Argelle Bross, the Gift of Life award she was receiving - could not be better named. Argelle,who donated her kidney to her baby brother Anim at SUNY Downstate in 2003 says "By giving my brother a kidney, I gave him the Gift of Life. I feel I gave him back his life and now he has a second chance."
For Diana Gallardo who donated her kidney to hersister Virginia at Downstate in 1991, there were no words toexpress the emotions she felt when the award was presented to her. "My sister was near death when I donated my kidney to her. To see her now leading a normal life, raising her beautiful family is nothing short of a miracle," she says.
According to Diana, the transplant was more than just a gift of life. It was an opportunity to bond with a sister that she barely knew growing up.
When Diana was very young, Virginia moved away from their home in Columbia and went to live in the United States. It wasn't until Virginia got very sick and Diana tested as a match that she went to New York to help her sister.
"Not only was I able to do something for my sister that helped save her life, but now we are so much a part of each others lives. We are extremely close," she says.
Roderick Dawkins who donated one of his kidneys to his sisterTikesha this past year was also deeply moved by the evening. "I think what I will most remember about the night," says Roderick "was the dancing. Seeing people who were probably lifeless before their operation now so full of life and energy wanting to celebrate and enjoy life. That really touched me a lot," he says.
What Argelle will remember most about the event was looking into the audience and seeing her brother there.
"My mother used to call him her angel. I felt like we were each other angels. I helped him and he helped me. He gave me the greatest gift of all - to see how precious life really is."
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