Coronavirus takes organ donation champion who fought cystic fibrosis

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After receiving a double-lung transplant 5 years in the past, Tara Madden McKeegan paid it ahead, recruiting scores of New Yorkers to enroll as organ donors.

On April 29, McKeegan, a Blauvelt resident, died at age 46. The trigger, her household had mentioned, was the coronavirus.

“There was little that Tara wouldn’t do to coach and enroll organ donors right here in New York,” mentioned Scott Wohl of LiveOnNY, the federally designated organ procurement group for the better New York Metropolis space. “Simply two months in the past I watched her share her story and enroll new residents on the Rockland County Naturalization Ceremony. Her authenticity and sincerity struck me.”

McKeegan was born with cystic fibrosis, a progressive, genetic illness that causes persistent lung infections and limits the power to breathe over time. Though there was vital progress in treating the illness, there’s nonetheless no treatment, in accordance with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Lung transplantation can prolong and enhance high quality of life.

With no hope in sight for such surgical procedure in New York, which ranks 50th in registered organ donors per capita, McKeegan underwent a double lung transplant at Duke College Hospital in North Carolina.

To handle the disparity, McKeegan spent hours attending occasions geared toward boosting New York’s organ donor rolls as a volunteer for the Transplant Assist Group and Rockland Organ Donation Alliance.

“Tara was a real transplant warrior,” mentioned Roxanne Watson, a coronary heart transplant recipient who signed up greater than 11,000 New Yorkers as organ and tissue donors. The 2 labored collectively on greater than 100 occasions geared toward encouraging organ donation signups.

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McKeegan was a Pearl River Excessive College graduate and earned her bachelor’s diploma from Fairfield College. She is survived by her husband, Raymond McKeegan, her mother and father, mother-in-law and siblings. She was “the world’s greatest aunt” to her nieces and nephews, her household mentioned.

“Tara taught us to embrace no matter is thrown our approach, to struggle for what you consider in, and to only breathe,” her obituary learn.

In New York, you’ll be able to register to develop into an organ donor while you go to the Division of Motor Autos, register to vote, or at LiveOnNY.org.

Nancy Cutler writes about Folks & Coverage. Click on here for her newest tales. Observe her on Twitter at @nancyrockland. Assist native journalism; go to lohud.com/specialoffer to learn how.

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