Local woman receives dual-organ transplant at Strong, the only upstate hospital to perform procedure

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CHILI, N.Y. – A Chili mother is alive today thanks to a dual-organ transplant. She was able to receive it right here in Rochester. Strong Hospital is the only center in Upstate New York that offers this type of procedure.

News10NBC talked to the woman whose body started to attack its own organs.

Ashley Cuyler was diagnosed with Lupus, and her doctors say her autoimmune disease damaged one of her kidneys, and heart requiring her to undergo a double-transplant.

“One day I was out and about, and my parents said I looked really fatigued. So, they decided this looks pretty serious. I think you should go to emergency,” said Ashley Cuyler as she discussed how it all started.

That trip to the emergency room later saved Cuyler’s life. Her doctors soon diagnosed her with Lupus, and the autoimmune disease proceeded to damage her vital organs.

“All the tests, and all the doctors that I was seeing, they just said that you know this is a really serious situation, and your heart is also affected by Lupus, not just the kidneys,” said Cuyler. 

To save her life, her doctors decided she needed a dual-organ transplant. She was added to the region’s transplant waiting list, and last October received her new organs after a grueling 14-hour operation.

“I just thank the donors and I wish one day I can actually meet them, and I want them to listen to the heart that I have and just let them know like your family member is living through me, and I’m making sure that I’m also keeping myself healthy so that person is proud of me, and the family as well,” said Cuyler.

The operation made possible by Strong Memorial Hospital.

Heart transplant specialist Igor Gosev, MD, PhD added, “I think we’re really unfortunately the only heart transplant center in Upstate New York, and we’re trying to serve our whole region by kind of bringing up the awareness of the fact that we have a heart transplant program, and also raising awareness about organ donations and the importance of it.”

Six months after her procedure Cuyler says her health has been rejuvenated.

“I have a lot of energy. I’m able to keep up with my daughter, and her sports, and go to her track meets, and soccer games. So, it’s a complete difference,” said Cuyler.

Information on organ donation available here.