Transplant Recipient, Now Donor Advocate

Every week, Prasha Tuladhar, 30, has to count out and separate the number of pills she has to take every day. On average, she takes 28 to 32 pills daily. Sometimes the number exceeds 42. The drugs help ensure that her new lungs function well, and that her body doesn’t reject them.

Tuladhar, an immigrant from Nepal and a resident of Queens, New York, is a double-lung transplant recipient. It took her almost three years to receive these lungs in New York State, a long wait compared to other states.

According to the Organ Donation & Transplantation Fact Sheet (March 2018) provided by LiveOnNY, the organ procurement organization, most patients nationwide wait an average of one to two years for an organ transplant. But in New York State, most patients wait three to five years.

New York State ranks last in the nation in the percent of residents registered as organ donors.

Tuladhar received her lungs on Feb. 9, 2016 at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, in Manhattan. Because of the gratitude she felt toward her donor, a 33-year-old woman, she wrote a letter on her first transplant anniversary to the donor’s family with the help of LiveOnNY. She was told that her letter was translated into Spanish as the family did not understand English.

To make people aware of the importance of organ transplantation and the need to register as an organ donor, Tuladhar has started volunteering with various nonprofit organizations. She regularly attends seminars and workshops to tell her personal story and even goes to meet lawmakers to urge them to pass legislation that would promote organ transplantation in New York State.

Multimedia journalist Anuz Thapa talked to Tuladhar and accompanied her on a visit to Albany. This video was produced as part of the 2018 Health Reporting Fellowship of the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and funded by a grant from News Corp.

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