Three Rochester Area Individuals Brought Together by Organ Donation

Three Rochester Area Individuals Brought Together by Organ Donation

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

When Laurie LoMonaco decided to donate one of her kidneys in 2010, she had no idea just how many lives she was affecting.

"We share a very deep bond that will never be broken by time or distance."

Laurie says it was difficult to tell loved ones about her decision, but that her best friends Paul and Mary Guyette were inspired by her donation. Laurie recalls her friend Paul even telling her, "You rock."

Then, just ten days after her surgery, Laurie's friend Paul suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage and died unexpectedly. After their conversations with Laurie, Paul's wife Mary says she knew what he would have wanted.

In February of 2013 Paul's heart was donated to Gates Orlando, a retired NHL Player. Orlando had been diagnosed with a rare heart disease years earlier, but his condition deteriorated rapidly over the course of a year.

"I was having these arrhythmias and my heart failed rather quickly, and I was put on an artificial heart for 10 months."

Orlando feels conflicted about the circumstances that led to his new heart:

"I'm sure there's a lot of grief and a lot of emotion involved in the family's side, and I think now when they look back, there's probably some happiness and joy in them knowing that their loved one lives in me."

Orlando says that since his surgery, he has made a full recovery. He is also an advocate for organ donation.

Gates Orlando, as well as the two organ donors Paul Guyette and Laurie LoMonaco, will be featured in this year's Donate Life Parade Float at the Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

Picture: From left to right: Gates Orlando received a heart transplant from the late Paul Guyette; Mary Guyette holds an image of her late husband; Laurie LoMonaco donated a kidney to a stranger in 2013, inspiring her friends.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News