Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Thu, March 21

The Gift of Life

Courtesy photo
Sue and John Cuccinello¹s lives were both changed with John¹s 2004 liver transplant. John said the transplant saved his life, as he needed a new liver after a disease slowly closed the entrance to his liver. Arizonans donated a record 116 of organs in 2005, which benefited 349 recipients.

Courtesy photo Sue and John Cuccinello¹s lives were both changed with John¹s 2004 liver transplant. John said the transplant saved his life, as he needed a new liver after a disease slowly closed the entrance to his liver. Arizonans donated a record 116 of organs in 2005, which benefited 349 recipients.

PRESCOTT ­ Right now, more than 90,000 Americans are fighting for their lives.

These people hope to be "survivors," but their fate depends upon a national system that prioritizes organ donations and depends upon volunteerism.

Prescott resident John Cuccinello, 66, is living proof that the system works, but he never met the man that originally owned his new liver. The donor's family agreed to donate his organs after his death. That decision saved Cuccinello's life.

"How do you say thank you to somebody for something like this," he said while describing the emotional impact of the transplant. "My solace is that I can accept that somebody died, because, although he died, he's still living inside of me."

Cuccinello, now an active participant in Prescott's local organ transplant support group, received his new liver after officials at Texas' Baylor Medical Center told him that he had eight hours to get to Dallas.

Two days later, a feeble Cuccinello woke up with a new liver and a new hope for life.

When he met his family immediately following the surgery, "I am writing in their hand with my finger, and basically the only thing that I could tell them was that I was OK Š What they're seeing there with all the tubes and whatnot is probably not a very good sight."

Two days later, he could walk slowly through the hospital. Cuccinello said that his wife, brother and other family are the "real heroes" after a taking care of him for a while and waiting six hours for the surgery to end.

Prescott's Jane Marr personally knows that recipients aren't the only ones that feel great after a donation, as she gave her niece, Christine Baumann, about 40 percent of her liver a little more than a year ago. Marr is a living donor, which means that she voluntarily took the risk of surgery to save her niece's life.

"She had autoimmune hepatitis," Marr said of her 29-year-old niece. "I had absolutely no hesitation ­ I would do it again in a minute."

Marr and Cuccinello are just two of many Arizonans that have recently benefited the national organ donor system. For more information, see the related story.

Contact

This Week's Circulars

To view money-saving ads...