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Contact: Leanna Cherry

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Present at the April 1 flag raising ceremony in honor of National Donate Life Month at Winthrop-University Hospital were (l.-r.) Margaret Gallagher, New York Organ Donor Network (NYODN) Hospital and Family Services Manager; Nakeela DeHarte, NYODN Hospital and Family Services Coordinator; Josephine Manzo, girlfriend of organ transplant recipient; Nancy Skelton, family friend; Laurie and Angela Crimeni, mother and sister of organ donor Vincenzo Crimeni; Rocco Crimeni, father of Vincenzo; Ruth Hoffmann, Vincenzo’s grandmother; Sal Coico, organ transplant recipient; Maria Coico, Sal’s mother; John Collins, President & CEO of Winthrop; Barbara Kohart Kleine, Vice President, Administration, and Chairman of the Organ Donor Task Force at Winthrop.
Mineola, NY – April is National Donate Life Month, a time when the nation focuses on the importance of saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation, and on April 1, 2009, Winthrop-University Hospital was honored to participate in a special flag raising ceremony to commemorate its significance. Representatives from the New York Organ Donor Network presented Winthrop with an Organ and Tissue Donation flag in honor of the Hospital’s deep commitment and success in raising awareness of and participation in organ and tissue donation. Members of Hospital administration and staff and a proud donor family and gracious recipient and loved ones gathered at the Winthrop flag pole to mark the occasion.

The ceremony began with a welcome from Winthrop-University Hospital President & CEO John F. Collins, who thanked the entire Hospital community for their commitment to saving lives through organ and tissue donation and encouraged all those in attendance to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry.

Barbara Kohart Kleine, Vice President, Administration, and Chairman of the Organ Donor Task Force at Winthrop, shared heart-felt sentiments about the profound impact that organ donation has had on many families, including the Crimeni family of Westbury who made the monumental decision to donate their 27-year-old son Vincenzo’s organs when he suddenly passed away just one year ago; and the Coico family of Farmingdale – who are forever grateful for the gift of life that their 21-year-old son Sal received as a result of the Crimeni family’s courageous decision.

During the ceremony, the Crimeni family was presented with a Medal of Honor by the New York Organ Donor Network for their generous participation in the organ donation process and for their commitment to raising awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation. The Crimeni family shared their inspirational story with the public through a poignant article in Winthrop’s Cornerstone newsmagazine and through a feature news story with Fox 5 News.

“For those of us who have had the opportunity to ‘give’ the gift of life on behalf of our loved ones, or those who have benefited from the ‘gift’ itself … it is, without a doubt, an experience that will stay with you forever,” said Ms. Kohart Kleine, “for whether you have given or received, you have become a part of a very special group of people who were there for each other in a life-saving effort.”

In addition to receiving the Organ and Tissue Donation flag for display outside of the hospital, Winthrop has the privilege of displaying a panel of the New York Organ Donor Network Memory Quilt during National Donate Life Month. The hand-crafted squares on the Memory Quilt have been created by donor families to commemorate their loved ones. The squares are stitched together and surrounded by a framework with the embroidered names of transplant recipients. The acknowledgment of donors and recipients symbolizes the “circle of life.” The quilt is on display in the main lobby of the hospital, next to an informational display that also pays special honor to organ and tissue donors, raises awareness about the importance of these donations, and encourages registrations to New York State Donate Life Registry.

Winthrop-University Hospital is proud of its commitment to organ donation. In 2006, the Hospital was honored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with the Organ Donor Network Medal of Honor for its high rate of organ and tissue donations.

For more information about becoming an organ donor, please call the New York Organ Donor Network at 1-800-GIFT-4-NY (1-800-443-8469) or visit For more information about the world-class healthcare services available at Winthrop-University Hospital, please call 1-866-WINTHROP.

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