The following story appeared in WNYT--Kate Wronowski is the daughter of Tom Wronowski, Troy High Class of 68, and Susan Sharpe Wronowski, also of the Class of 68.
Updated: 01/03/2014 12:00 AM
Created: 01/02/2014 5:54 PM WNYT.com
By: Benita Zahn
This new year is starting off very differently than last year's for a couple, originally from Latham, and it's all thanks to the generosity of a family that suffered a loss.
Five month old Brigid O'Grady has no idea how close she came to never knowing her dad, Patrick.
In 2009, when he was just 34, he was diagnosed with liver cancer.
“I had a moment of 'why me'. Then it was very quickly I thought, 'why not?',” says Patrick.
He underwent extensive surgery and the removal of 60 percent of his liver, but knew he wasn't fully out of the woods.
Even so he was determined to live a full life and a year later he met Catherine, “Kate” Wronowski.
Although they were living in California, as fate would have it, they're both from Latham.
“How am I going tell her? Do I wait three days? When do I do it? It was probably the second or third date I have her the whole rundown,” he says.
“It didn't really bother me. We just had such a great time, such great chemistry being from the same hometown. There was really this unspoken connection that we had,” says Kate.
They married in June 2012 and by Christmas, Kate was pregnant. Then the other shoe fell and their delight was tempered. Patrick's liver was failing and fast. He had one shot at life - a transplant, but they'd have to leave California.
“California is a huge state with a lot of people nobody donates. I mean, they have very low donor rates and so does New York,” says Patrick.
So they went to the Mayo clinic in Jacksonville Florida in March where the list was shorter and the wait began.
“Even though he was hours away from not being with us, I knew we were going to see that liver,” says Kate.
The liver finally came on April 10. The donor was a young man. They've written his family a letter of thanks and hope to connect with them.
Kate's now active with the organization Donate Life America and coincidentally, was among the many volunteers creating the “Donate Life” float in the Rose Parade. Among those honored on the float, Albany Doctor Howard Smith, who passed last year and donated his organs.
As Kate and Patrick look to the future one thing is certain: their mission to educated others to the importance of sharing life.
“It was the best Christmas present. The best life present,” says Kate.
For more information on becoming an organ donor, visit organdonor.gov or donatelifeny.org.