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Waiting for Life: New York’s critical organ shortage

Liz DeVivo’s pager went off at 4:45 a.m. on July 29, 2003. She was in bed, attached to two intravenous machines pumping medicine through her body, keeping her heart beating until it was her turn for a transplant.

The Binghamton resident had gotten the call once before, in November 2002. But the weather — cold, icy, windy — meant a plane wouldn’t be able to make it to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center within four hours, the amount of time a heart and lungs can stay outside a body before deteriorating. The organs went to someone else.

When DeVivo’s pager went off in 2003, she mobilized immediately. She and her then-husband, Scott Searles, woke up their daughters, Luci, 10, and Emma, 7, loaded their pre-packed bags into the car, and drove to the Binghamton airport, where a plane from Dick’s Sporting Goods was waiting for them.

DeVivo has Scleroderma and, at the time, had Pulmonary Hypertension, diseases that can be deadly.

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