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6,503,573 New Yorkers have joined the NYS Donate Life Registry

Kayla’s Story (Organ, Cornea, and Tissue Donor)

Photo: Kayla Urrey

Kayla Urrey was a 22 years old nursing student and mother. A hard-worker, on a typical day she would put in a full day at a local feed store, before going to school in the evening. When she was done with her day, she would pick up her son Mikey. She was excited to begin the next phase of her life as a registered nurse.

On March 21st, 2016, when Kayla was just two months shy of finishing her degree as an RN, her mother Jennifer Urrey received a call no mother should ever receive. Jennifer’s son told her to come to the hospital right away – there was something wrong with Kayla. From the moment of that phone call, Jennifer was caught in a whirlwind of questions with no real answers.  When she arrived at Cooperstown Hospital, she was bombarded with questions – Did Kayla smoke? Did she do drugs? Did she drink a lot? Had she had an injury recently? The answer to all of those questions was no.   

Jennifer was sitting with her daughter in the ICU when she finally learned what had happened. Kayla had had a rare, undiagnosed blood disorder, which caused a pulmonary embolism. Sadly, on March 23, 2016, Kayla was pronounced clinically brain dead. It was then she learned Kayla had already enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry at a health fair at Hudson Valley Community College where she had been a nursing student.

“My girl was able to donate her liver, both kidneys, her pancreas, both corneas, tissue and bone,” Jennifer says. “I just like to share her story as much as possible, as it gives her son and I both some comfort.”

Kayla was a true country girl who loved the outdoors and her four-legged animals. Jennifer says that horses were a huge part of Kayla’s life since childhood. Her dream was to one day own a huge horse farm and become a therapeutic riding instructor so she could use her knowledge of both the medical field and animals to help others. “I know she would have accomplished this,” Jennifer says, “because once she put her mind to something, she could accomplish anything she dreamed of.  She turned her ‘cant’s’ into ‘cans’ and her ‘dreams’ into ‘plans’.

Photo: Kayla and her son, Mikey

“One of Kayla’s greatest gifts to us all is her now eight-year old son, Michael.  Mikey is a smart little boy with a sparkle in his eyes and beautiful dimples.  Kayla lives on through Mikey and her selfless donation of her organs and tissues. Kayla was an amazing young mother who proved she could raise a son, work and go to school, always putting her son and others before herself.”

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