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More Kidney Donors Needed at Upstate University Hospital

Around 300 people are on the wait list for a kidney at Syracuse’s Upstate University Hospital.  The problem?  Too few people are offering to donate.  One of those on the wait list actually works at the hospital. 

Pediatric nurse Carrie Conkey has been waiting for a kidney donor for years and dreams of a better future.

"It would mean that I would have the time and physical ability to spend with my loving family and my friends and helping more people understand that a new kidney is a new life."

For kidney donations, Upstate Hospital has the shortest average wait time in New York State. The hospital performed more than 100 transplants in 2018, but just 18 were from living donors. Conkey says there are significant benefits to receiving a kidney from a living donor.  

Credit John Smith/WAER News
Carrie Conkey (standing) is a pediatric nurse at University Upstate Hospital. She's also been waiting on a kidney donor for five years.

"One, you kind of skip the line. If somebody wants to donate a kidney to you, you get it. Furthermore, living donation provides the ability to better plan for surgery. Statistically, living donor kidneys are less likely to reject and more successful."

For the donors, there can be risks associated with giving up a kidney. But the Rev. Susan Huizenga became a donor five years ago without problems. 

Credit John Smith/WAER News
The Rev. Susan Huizenga donated a kidney five years ago and says she's experienced no complications.

"When you're giving your left kidney, the right kidney grows slightly larger and improves in efficiency. I still can do everything I ever did and I've had no complications."

The hospital encourages people to discuss organ donations with their families.  A celebration for Donate Life was held today at Golisano Children’s Hospital.  You can sign up at

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.