More than 100,000 people are waiting for organ transplants in the United States, but New York state has one of the lowest donor enrollment rates in the country.
According to the New York Organ Donor Network, the national average of people signed up as organ, tissue, and eye donors is 42%. In New York, it's only 17%.
Now, as part of our special series, "Legacy of Life: The Real Story of Organ Donation," we're sharing stories of people whose lives were changed forever by organ donation.
Sue Sprague received a kidney and pancreas 15 years ago. She had diabetes, was going through dialysis for kidney failure, and she was scared.
"I guess deep in my heart, I thought about it, but then again, you try to push those things away," says Sprague. "I know I had two little kids who needed their mom, and that was one of the reasons I fought all the harder."
Her donor was Terry Brown, a man who died after a car accident. His family made the decision to donate his organs.
"When I wake up in the morning, and my feet hit the floor, first I thank God. Then I thank Terry," says Sprague. "If it wasn't for Terry, I wouldn't be here."
Karen Kline was also affected by organ donation. Her 12-year-old daughter Kelly was at a sleepover, when Karen received a call Kelly was having trouble breathing. She was taken to a hospital in Rochester.
"When we got up there, Kelly was on life support," says Kline. "She was in her own room, and they said she could not breathe on her own."
Kelly's family made the decision to donate her organs. Her mother says three adults were helped. She has met two of them.
"When I see them, I think, 'They're here because of her,'" says Kline. "She's given them a few extra days or years, and it's been 12 years for both of them. They're very thankful and happy."
Click here to watch Karen's story.
We'll also have experts at CNYCentral answering your questions about organ donation during our evening newscast on Wednesday. Tune in from 5pm-6:30pm to learn more and ask your questions.
You can also ask your questions below, and we'll try to get them answered during our newscast.
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