Karen L. Paulick and Kaitlyn Doorhy never met each other, but they share something in common.
Ms. Paulick received a liver transplant 18 years ago. The Cutchogue resident could not have survived without the healthy liver donated by Ms. Doorhy.
On Aug. 22, 2014, Ms. Doorhy's tragic death in a car accident devastated the local community. The 2012 Mattituck High School graduate was a junior at Sacred Heart University when she died at age 20.
During her first death anniversary, Ms. Paulick, who has addressed a standing-room only crowd where most people wore pink Kaitlyn's favorite color at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck.
She used the opportunity to explain how meaningful the decision to become an organ donor is.
"Although we never met, I felt a deep emotional connection to her when I heard about her passing. I reached out to her family to let them know what organ donation has meant to my life. Although there are deep sorrow and pain for the donor's family, much hope and joy is given to numerous other families on the transplant list," said Ms. Paulick.
New York state ranks last compared to the rest of the country with residents agreeing to become organ donors, Ms. Paulick said. Around 10,000 people in the state are on the waiting list to receive an organ but only about 24% of residents have signed up to become a donor.