In the News

A heartfelt emotional connection for Guilford man and organ donor


By:  Jocelyn Maminta 

"Finally," the tears flowed as Don Pritchard and Christine Sicignano embraced -- sealing a friendship for a lifetime. Family members were close by, struggling to keep their emotions in check.  "I've been waiting for this day for about a week and a half," said Don, a Marine veteran, paramedic and a 9/11 responder, needed a life-saving kidney. "When Jocelyn interviewed me at the house, my concern was not being to grow old with her or be there for my daughter.  And you've given that to me and I'm thankful for that," he said to Christine, a mom of four connecting after watching Don's story on News 8 which aired on Veterans Day. "It came across my newsfeed," said Christine. "Oh geez, this is somebody right here in Guilford, I wonder if I know him."

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The Truth About Organ Donation | Dan Drew | TEDxWesleyanU

Organ donation is a mystery to many people. Mayor Daniel Drew tells the inspiring story of donating his kidney to a constituent who was ill with polycystic kidney disease and reveals the truth about what it's like to give a lifesaving organ to another person. This is the reality of live organ donation from someone who experienced it. Dan Drew is the third-term Mayor of Middletown, CT and has overseen an explosion in economic growth in Middletown since taking office in 2011. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Photo: Brian Zahn / Hearst Connecticut Media

From left, Dr. Sukru Emre, Dori Dumas, Alexandra Glazier, Richard Therrien and Lonnell Lawson answer questions about a partnership between Donate Life Connecticut and New Haven Public Schools.

NEW HAVEN — Lily Fralik, 4, twirled around the stage of a symposium at Albertus Magnus College Tuesday, unconcerned with the crowd of about 100 people watching. “She is full of excitement and sass,” said mother Jayme Fralik.

The symposium, a collaboration between New Haven Public Schools and Donate Life Connecticut, was intended as an attempt to brainstorm ways to implement education about organ donation and transplantation into the city’s schools. As Lily floated around the stage, Fralik talked about how her daughter’s health was not always guaranteed.

When Lily’s jaundice did not subside, her parents learned she would need a liver transplant. Fralik, a nurse who lives in Berlin, said she had been unaware that she could be her daughter’s donor. There are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation about organ transplants, said Mark Brevard, community outreach coordinator for New England Donor Services.  Read More...

After getting sick four years ago, General Motors autoworker Rick Foley learned he needed a life-saving liver transplant. His odds were grim: 1 in 5 people in his situation didn't make it.

"You get really desperate…" he said. "I was dying every day."

None of Foley's family members were a fit, so Foley's wife, Carolyn, posted a desperate plea at the Ford plant across town where she works: "My husband, Rick Foley, needs a liver transplant." The plea caught the attention of Fredo Pacheco, who also worked at the Ford plant.

By Jamie Ratliff | Nov 7, 2018

After 23 years with the Vernon Police Department, Steven Chipman retired and opened his own private investigation company. But earlier this year, at the age of 50, everything changed when he suffered a cardiac event at home and a brain injury.

"Realizing the brain injury was not going to get better we had to transition to the idea of organ donation," said Chipman's wife, Kate Rooney. "He was the best husband and the best father in the world."

More than seven months later, Rooney and her two boys stood next to Lydia. Lydia is one of the many people Rooney's husband helped with his organ donation. Lydia was just 19 when she went on dialysis. For the last 42 years that was her life until Chipman gave her another. Read More/View Video

West Haven Rotary Camaraderie Leads to Perfect Donor Match

by: Stephanie Simoni } Posted: Jun 25, 2019

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)–If you walk into his West Haven office, you will spot a Rotary flag proudly pinned above Michael Musco’s desk. He joined the group 25 years ago.

Five years ago, Dianne Milano of West Haven thought, ‘I’d like to be involved it sounds like a fun group of people.’ She joined and quickly climbed the ranks, even becoming President. Around the same time, Musco got some bad news: his liver was starting to take its toll. About a decade ago, he was diagnosed with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. “Liver, as I later found out, is probably one of the most important organs in your body,” Musco said, “It filters out everything that is bad.” He lived with it for several years, but then, last summer, doctors at Yale told him he would need a donor.  With this part of the body you can donate a portion of your liver, and it will regenerate. So he took to Facebook and spread the word at his Rotary club. Milano couldn’t stop thinking about it. Read More


Jonathan Winer, the athletic director for CREC schools, became an altruistic kidney donor in November and would like to get the word out about kidney donations. Winer, 37, of West Hartford, donated a kidney at Yale-New Haven Hospital on November 28 which happened to be Giving Tuesday.

Jon Winer didn’t know anybody in particular who needed a kidney. But he decided to donate one of his anyway. Winer, the athletic director for the Capitol Region Education Council magnet schools, was listening to a podcast one day last year about altruistic kidney donation and was intrigued and moved. He decided to look more into it; he picked up the phone and called Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, who had donated a kidney altruistically in August 2016.

News 12 Connecticut features "Ultimate Gift" series during Donate Life month to increase organ donation awareness

April 5, 2018

NEW HAVEN - As medical technology continues to advance, more patients at Yale-New Haven Hospital are getting a second chance at life through organ donation. Dr. Sanjay Kulkarni runs the Yale-New Haven Health Center for Living Organ Donors, helping many through transplant surgery. But Kulkarni says there is a lot of misinformation surrounding donating an organ that he hopes to clear up. One common myth is that donors suffer more than recipients do, but thanks to new methods that is not true.

"Now we do it total laparoscopically," says Kulkarni. "We do the operation through three or four small incisions. That affords donors a lot less pain and a quicker recovery time." Kulkarni says some think a person cannot become pregnant later in life after donating an organ -- this is also untrue.

A different misnomer that Kulkarni wishes were true involves the existence of 3D-printed livers and other organs. He says scientists are years away from being able to make layers of cells needed to grow organs from scratch, so that is not an option.

One thing Kulkarni wants potential lifesavers to know is that if you donate an organ and then need one later on in life, you are put to the top of the waiting list. But what he wants people to know most is how transplants really do offer a new lease on life. "These really are lifesaving and life-lengthening procedures," says Kulkarni. "Their longevity matches what it would have been if they never required a transplant."  View Video...

April 19, 2018

NORWALK - In this week's "Ultimate Gift" report, News 12 is focusing on the ripple effect of gratitude that can occur when someone becomes an organ donor at death. Alison Keating, of Donate Life Connecticut, says people find powerful ways to express their gratitude for organ donation. It came through song for Jay Gulotta, whose father died suddenly in 2002. Jay Gulotta Sr. saved four people on the waitlist for vital organs and helped countless others with donor tissue. His legacy of helping strangers in need continues to strike a healing chord in his family. Keating says the organs of one person can save as many as eight lives and that their tissue can be used to help more than 75 people. Right now, she says 1,200 people are waiting for a transplant in Connecticut. The person who saves them, she says, could be 1,000 or more miles away.  View Video...

April 12, 2018

NEW HAVEN - "Ultimate Gift" Report - People in need of a vital organ donation to live say their worlds get turned upside down with worry, which begs the question: What would you do if you needed an organ donation and your doctor said time was of the essence?

That can be one of the most difficult things for patients who find out that their kidney or liver is failing and they need to go find a living donor.

April Capone manages Yale-New Haven Health's Center for Living Organ Donors. She says the number of people in need of donor organs in Connecticut is a public health crisis, with more than 1,200 a year.

The Center's Dr. Sanjay Kulkarni says patients are encouraged to make a "15-second connection." "The idea is just get the word out and wait to see if people are interested," Kulkarni says. Capone says she knows for a fact that there are people out there who would be willing to donate an organ if asked.  View Video...

POSTED 7:12 PM, MAY 30, 2018, BY BEN GOLDMAN - The Make a Wish Foundation is dedicated to granting the wishes of children who are battling life-threatening illnesses, and the average wish costs $10,000.

Penelope Hansen is 4-years-old and had to have a liver transplant in 2017. Her wish was for her and her family to go to Disney World – and that’s exactly what happened.

Make-A-Wish raises money all year long and for the past few years, Splash Car Wash locations all across Connecticut have helped them raise funds. For one day, each year, a portion of every car that uses a Splash Car Wash in every one of their locations goes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Mark Curtis who runs the car wash says it’s the least they can do to put a smile on some young faces. Thanks to this fundraiser last year, 10-year-old Ben McFadden got to go to Seattle to meet his favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks. So far, in their years of fundraising, Splash Car Washes have raised over $800,000 for Make-A-Wish CT

(WFSB) -- A mother survives 14 years on dialysis before receiving a kidney transplant that saved her life! You can save a life by becoming an organ donor:  View Video...

Hartford Courant - The 2017 Middletown Mayor’s Ball raised $2,500 for St. Vincent de Paul Middletown and $13,000 for organ donation awareness group Donate Life Connecticut.

Mayor Daniel Drew presented the organizations with checks Nov. 14 from the 12th annual ball. Dr. AnnMarie Liapakis, part of the care team for organ recipients at Yale-New Haven Hospital and co-chair of the Donate Life Connecticut board of directors, said funding like the donation from the Mayor’s Ball helps raise awareness of the need for donated organs. “People would come forward as donors if they just knew the facts. There are many misconceptions,” Liapakis said.

Donate Life Connecticut said 22 people die in the United States every day waiting for an organ transplant. Read More...

Mayor Daniel Drew presented donations to St. Vincent de Paul Middletown and Donate Life Connecticut with money raised at the 2017 Middletown Mayor's Ball. (Shawn R. Beals / Hartford Courant)