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      Critical need for organ donors

      It is National Donate Life month, and at University Hospital on Monday, they held a ceremony Monday to raise transplant awareness by pointing out the critical need.Kidneys are the most-needed organs, and at University Hospital they did just 36 transplant operations last year, even though the list of patients waiting for transplants is at 247. The reason: lack of donors. And, according to University Hospital's Director of Transplant Services, Dr. Amy Friedman, the need is growing because of the growing number of diabetics and obese patients--those are the main causes of kidney disease.Among the speakers at the ceremony, Antonia Cherry, who donated her son James Ellis' organs after he was murdered in Syracuse last year. She says she's a big supporter of organ donation now because 'If you don't become a donor, you kill two people, your loved one and the person you kill by not donating." Cherry showed a picture of the man who got her son's heart. She says four people are now alive because of her decision to donate. She also says that if you don't donate, it goes in the ground...and what good does that do? Also speaking was Stephanie Juskow, who's had a new kidney for just a couple of months. A banner of the man who donated to her was stretched behind the speakers' podium. She says that after five years of dialysis and dealing with kidney disease, she does not have to think about death; that too many people on transplant lists die before they get their organ. Laura Tanyhill is a living kidney donor. She donated to her husband who needed a transplant. She says that she remembers taking her father, a kidney disease sufferer, to dialysis daily for years, and didn't want to do the same for her husband.Living donors are rarer, but Dr. Friedman, and others, encouraged everyone to sign up to donate organs upon death.You can do it through your driver's license...or sign up on the NY registry: