Jamestown Post Journal by Pat Brininger

October 19, 2009

http://www.post-journal.com/photos/news/md/542823_1.jpg From left, Tina Long and Jeanette Ostrom and Patti Merritt receive the National Kidney Foundation of Western New York’s Extraordinary Achievement Award at a presentation in Buffalo. The women created WNYKidneyConnection.org, a Web site where potential living kidney donors can communicate with people in need on the Buffalo transplant waiting list. Not pictured is Diane Krzyzanowski

From left, Tina Long and Jeanette Ostrom and Patti Merritt receive the National Kidney Foundation of Western New York’s Extraordinary Achievement Award at a presentation in Buffalo. The women created WNYKidneyConnection.org, a Web site where potential living kidney donors can communicate with people in need on the Buffalo transplant waiting list. Not pictured is Diane Krzyzanowski

Less than five years ago, the need for a kidney – for themselves or someone they loved – brought together four women from across Western New York.

Overcoming their individual struggles, they became “Women on a Mission” and brought about changes in hospital policies to allow for transplants from living organ donors who make connections through the Internet, and they established their own organization and Web site to facilitate these contacts.

Diane Krzyzanowski of Akron, Tina Long of Buffalo, Patti Merritt of Grand Island and Jeanette Ostrom of Jamestown were recently honored with the National Kidney Foundation of Western New York’s Extraordinary Achievement Award.

Anne McCooey, executive director, presented the award at the National Kidney Foundation of WNY’s annual banquet.

“Two years ago I established the Extraordinary Achievement Award to honor those that truly go above and beyond even the above and beyond category, (measured) by passion, drive, commitment and determination to help make things better for others,” she said during her presentation. ”And I knew the minute that I met the recipients of this year’s award … that they were indeed extraordinary.”

Ms. McCooey said the women banded together to make life easier for others who were struggling as they had. They “knew no boundaries and were not afraid to challenge the medical system to ensure altruistic donors would not be looked at as crazy, but accepted as viable donors for those in need right here in Western New York.”

Women on a Mission knew that neighbors helping neighbors was the only way to get rid of the transplant waiting list. With their own money and effort, they used modern technology to give patients something no health care provider could – hope, empowerment and control.

Their Web site – www.wnykidneyconnection.org – serves people who have Buffalo General Hospital or Erie County Medical Center as their transplant hospital.

These are the only hospitals that perform transplants in Western New York.

The women’s goal is to reduce the number of people waiting in their hometown area, including Buffalo, Fredonia, Jamestown, Olean, Niagara Falls and all the towns that fall within that circle.

For more information, visit www.wnykidneyconnection.org.

Photo: http://www.post-journal.com/photos/news/md/542823_1.jpg