MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Rudy Masry worked the sign-in desk at the Columbia Engine and Hose Company's annual blood drive to help save lives, but eight years ago, his life needed saving.
"I'm a kidney recipient," said Masry, a member of the Transplant Support Organization whose wife donated her kidney to the Rye resident in Jan. 2003 after one-and-a-half years spent on the waiting list. "We need to get more people to sign up to be a donor."
Monday, the former president of the Transplant Support Organization -- a not-for-profit support group with the purpose of educating and registering organ and tissue donors -- signed in potential donors giving blood to the American Red Cross.
"The two go hand-in-hand," said Thomas Kane, account manager for the American Red Cross, who pointed out that every one pint of blood donated helps three people.
Similarly, one person's organs can save eight lives and also help 50 people with their tissue and corneas, said Masry, who brought pamphlets to the blood drive to encourage people to become an organ donor.
"Organ donation is very important," the Rye resident said. "Over 111,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and on average 18 die everyday. It's really criminal."
Masry spent over one year on dialysis waiting for a kidney. "It's challenging becuase three days a week are spent in the hospital," he said. "My wife and I like to travel, but a five-day vacation gets cut into two days when you're on dialysis."
The Transplant Support Organization holds monthly meetings in Briarcliff Manor to give transplant donors, recipients and those waiting a chance to share their story. Last month, 61 people attended their meeting, all of whom were transplant recipients.
"What shocked me is we had a heart transplant patient who waited all of three days, he was near death," said Carolyn Robinson, who received a kidney from her sister in Jan. 2009.
While the TSO has brought together transplant receipients from the various counties it serves in New York, the state still ranks 47th in the nation for the number of registered donors.
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