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Family waits for liver transplant, 17 months and counting

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Albany/HV: Family waits for liver transplant, 17 months and counting
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According to the American Liver Foundation, 17,000 people are waiting for liver transplants. That list grows every year. Judy Coon's family knows that all too well. Coon was diagnosed with liver disease in 2011.

"It kind of progressed quickly. She was fine. Just didn't feel well. Stomach pains, things like that. Then slowly, she just had such confusion. She didn't understand things. A lot of bloating in her stomach," said Judy's daughter, Lauren Coon.

Coon was put on the transplant list a year and a half ago.

"It's been a little rough. She can't be alone at all. My dad and I always have to be here. She can't answer a phone or use a remote control or walk. My dad does everything for her. He's here all day long helping," said Coon.

And even though her daughter Lauren is a match, Judy doesn't want to put her daughter's life at risk by taking part of her liver.

"It would save my mom's life. They said, as sick as my mom is now, if she had a liver transplant tomorrow, in a month, everything would be like it never happened. All of this. She would be a brand new person, whole new life. They would be able to leave the house. They never leave the house," said Coon.

Another challenge for the Coon family is New York's low organ donation rate.

"New York State has one of the lowest registry rates in the nation. About 30 percent of the population as compared to a national average of 42 percent," said Paul Seale, the Upstate University Hospital chief operating officer.

"We decided to do treatments in Cleveland at the Cleveland Clinic because they transplant at a lower score than New York does. So we have bimonthly trips to Cleveland that we have to do. Weekly medical trips here that we have to do and then the home care and the nurses coming in," said Coon.

Because of what her family has been through, Lauren is working to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.

"I think people would give more if they knew about it, but it's not in their face enough. They don't realize how many people are suffering daily because they don't have an organ," said Coon.

At least seven lives can be saved by becoming an organ donor.

If you'd like to donate to help Lauren's family afford some of the medical expenses that aren't covered and the travel expenses, check out the link below:
Judy's Liver Transplant Fund

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