The Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network is encouraging families to have "the talk" this holiday season about deciding whether to be an organ donor.
Margaret Johnson just turned 70 and she is celebrating with the most meaningful gift of her life.
Johnson said, "I had celebrated one week in a half before my birthday and a heart became available."
In the past she's had complications with her heart and has suffered from multiple heart attacks. October 26th, Johnson had a heart transplant at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Johnson said, "I'm just thankful to be alive to have come into a new life."
Since the surgery, she has been recovering at the hospital with her grandchildren by her side.
Johnson said, "I'm grateful for the donors that thought enough of me and loved enough of me to share with me and I hope down the road I can be a blessing to share back."
Johnson is just one of 103 patients in the region to receive an organ transplant. But according to the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, more than 700 patients are still on the waiting list.
Executive director Rob Kochik said, "Lots of difference between about 750 and the 103 that have received transplants so far. So great need."
Kochik says because of the need, he's encouraging families to talk about organ donation this holiday season.
Kochik said, "How often do we get together with our families, it really isn't all that often, so when there's an opportunity someone will talk about what I want."
He says it's not the easiest topic to bring up at the dinner table.
Kochik added, "We could say to our mom and dad and our grandparents you've had those conversations with me that safe sex and drunk driving and don't text when I'm driving and things so it really an opportunity for the kids no matter what age they are to say if I'm ever in a situation to make a decision on my parents behalf or on my grandparents behalf I want to know what their wishes are. Tell me what you want because I want to get it right."
Still, it's a topic he and patients like Johnson believe is necessary.
Johnson said, "Encourage your family folks. Try, what do you have to lose."