For organ recipients waiting for their perfect match, it can be difficult not knowing when that call might come.

In New York, there are more than 8,500 men, women and children on the beneficiary list.

What do you want to know

  • Eighty percent of people on transplant lists need a kidney.
  • A New Yorker will die every 15 hours for not receiving a life-saving organ
  • New York had the third fewest registered organ donors, but the second highest need for organs in the country

One of these people in waiting says that although his journey has been difficult, what keeps him going is a chance to embark on a new career.

For Sam Piazza, he finds his escape through the chords of his guitar.

“I started giving guitar lessons when I was 18, right next door,” Piazza said. “And after I got sick and got laid off from construction and things like that, you know, it seemed like a good choice.”

Piazza struggled for years with kidney problems. He was told in 2018 that he needed a new kidney, but it wasn’t until the following year that he was added to the transplant list.

“I had to wait a lot longer to get on the list,” Piazza said. “About six months later, I had to start dialysis. So I’ve been doing this every night for two years.

For the 32-year-old, the wait can be difficult and sometimes frustrating.

“So I always have to have my phone on me, and I get really annoyed with the telemarketers because every time they call I have to answer them,” Piazza said. “Because I don’t know if it will be a kidney or not.”

Although awareness of organ donation has grown over the years, Piazza says there’s still a long way to go before people really understand how much donation is needed.

“I wish people were more aware of that,” Piazza said. “There are a lot of young people who need organ donation and things of that nature, and things that you would never even think of. Just because it’s an internal disease, not an external one.

Piazza says the only distraction he can find is in his guitar. He is currently returning to college, working toward his music degree. A new kidney, he says, could mean a chance at a new career for him.

“It would be pretty nice to have the freedom to do that,” Piazza said. “To actually do something that’s really close to my heart without having to worry about whether or not I’m going to go home for my treatments and all that.”