1500 New York Organ Donor Families and Transplant Recipients Come Together at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC for 23rd Annual “Gift of Life” Ceremony

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1500 organ, eye and tissue donor families and transplant recipients come together at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue in New York City for 23rd annual "Remember & Rejoice" ecumenical Ceremony, celebrating the “Gift of Life.” This event is the largest gathering of donor families and transplant recipients in the country and is sponsored by the Manhattan Chapter of TRIO (Transplant Recipients International Organization) with the support of the federally designated organ procurement organization, LiveOnNY.

The day is so powerful, it is filled with tears, hugs, smiles and sometimes even laughter as people whose lives have been impacted by organ donation come together every year.

The 23rd annual ‘Remember & Rejoice’ ecumenical service, honoring New York organ donors, the families of deceased donors and organ transplant recipients, will be held Saturday April 21 from 2:30 to 4:30 pm at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan.

It is the single largest gathering of donor families and transplant recipients in the country.

The candlelight ceremony includes the selfless families of deceased donors, living donors, and transplant recipients who have been given a second chance at life. The emotion in the 140-year-old neo-Gothic-style sanctuary is palpable as donor families find solace in honoring their loved ones and remembering their legacy, while bearing their losses. Conversely, recipients express their heartfelt gratitude to their donors and their families for their precious gift.

“The day is so powerful, filled with tears, hugs, smiles and sometimes even laughter as people whose lives have been impacted by organ donation come together every year,” said Fran Dillon, a 29-year liver recipient from Queens who coordinates the event.

The program includes donor and recipient speakers, spiritual leaders, soaring music and a beautiful dedication to donors and their families, where donor’s names are read aloud during a candle lighting and white rose distribution ceremony.

The unique stories told by each speaker bring the audience to a place of strength and hope as they give thanks and appreciation for those who donated a part of themselves, so that others could live. This year also features a Long Island mother who lost her 26-year old son, and found solace knowing her son lives on through the four New Yorkers whose lives he saved. Noemi Castro-Feinstein of the Bronx, once virtually blind, will speak about receiving the gift of sight.

Other extraordinary touches throughout the service interweave people whose lives have been touched by organ donation. For example, the priest who presides over the annual St. Patrick’s service – Rev. Thomas A. Lynch of Our Lady of the Angels in the Bronx– donated a kidney to his brother.

The service is translated into American Sign Language by a kidney recipient.

The event is sponsored by the Manhattan Chapter of Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO) with the support of LiveOnNY.

TRIO is an independent nonprofit organization committed to improving the quality of life for people touched by the miracle of organ donation in the community by promoting awareness, offering support, providing education and participating in advocacy.

LiveOnNY is the federally designated non-profit that oversees and coordinates organ and tissue transplantation in New York. More than 22,000 New York lives have been saved since its inception in 1978 as the New York Organ Donor Network. Find us on Facebook.

Speakers:
Margaret O’Reilly – Donor Mom, Mother of 26-year-old Stephen Valeschi who died in 2010, and saved the lives of four people by donating his heart, live and both kidneys - Long Island
Andy Brattain – 2018 Liver recipient; Concert producer for major headliners and former sound engineer for Michael Feinstein Manhattan
Noemi Castro-Feinstein – Double Cornea transplant recipient (2004/2008) Bronx
Natalie Benavides - Altruistic Kidney Donor (2016) -Manhattan
Linda Addonizio, MD – Medical Director of the Pediatric Cardiac Transplant Program at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center
Helen Irving, RN, MBA – President and CEO of LiveOnNY

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