New York was once last in organ donation participation. Those numbers have improved, but lawmakers and advocates fear a budget crunch could end that.
In 2015, Dave Gray needed an organ donation after contracting a virus.
"This can happen to anybody," Gray said. "I was a perfectly happy, healthy guy. I caught a virus in the summer of 2015, and it changed my life."
Since that health crisis, the East Greenbush resident has devoted his time to organ donation advocacy as New York has made strides on the issue.
"I believe all our advocacy is helping big-time," Gray said. "I do a lot of high schools, I go to colleges. I go wherever I can share my story."
But those gains could be in danger. Senator David Carlucci, on Monday at a news conference, called for the restoration of funding in the state budget to promote organ donation efforts in New York.
"Let's continue that progressivism," Carlucci said. "Let's be the top state in the nation that registers in the organ donor program, and it's only going to happen if we put our money where our mouth is."
It’s progress that could save lives like heart transplant recipient Katie Flynn, a resident of the Syracuse area.
"I was so lucky to get my transplant in that amount of time, but there's so many people who don't get that option," Flynn said. "So, it's really important for people to understand the truths about organ donation and what you can do to help so everyone has the same outcome that I did."
Lawmakers and advocates are seeking more than $700,000 in funding for organ donation programs in New York.