There are more than 50,000 people currently waiting on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) heart transplant list. Following are a few examples of the wait times of some of those people at New York City's Mt. Sinai hospital which I photographed for Life Magazine.  

There are more than 50,000 people currently waiting on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) heart transplant list. Following are a few examples of the wait times of some of those people at New York City's Mt. Sinai hospital which I photographed for Life Magazine.  

 After waiting nearly a year on the transplant list, Joe struggles to find ways to fill time at the hospital. 

After waiting nearly a year on the transplant list, Joe struggles to find ways to fill time at the hospital. 

 Comforted by his wife, Joe is prepped for his transplant.  In America, the median wait for a heart is 209 days, with the success rates of patients living longer than 5 years hovering near 50%.

Comforted by his wife, Joe is prepped for his transplant.  In America, the median wait for a heart is 209 days, with the success rates of patients living longer than 5 years hovering near 50%.

 An accident on the Long Island Expressway mortally wounded an 18 year-old man, who was an organ donor.

An accident on the Long Island Expressway mortally wounded an 18 year-old man, who was an organ donor.

 Joe's bad heart (at right) was enormously enlarged by the heart disease that also killed both his father and older brother. The harvested heart (at left), is what an average, healthy heart looks like.

Joe's bad heart (at right) was enormously enlarged by the heart disease that also killed both his father and older brother. The harvested heart (at left), is what an average, healthy heart looks like.

 Arty, a stock-broker, peers through the windows of the intensive care unit at Joe who is resting just a few hours after the operation.

Arty, a stock-broker, peers through the windows of the intensive care unit at Joe who is resting just a few hours after the operation.

 A massage is given to Joe to help clear his lungs and loosen tight muscles less than ten hours after the operation.

A massage is given to Joe to help clear his lungs and loosen tight muscles less than ten hours after the operation.

 Given a two-week supply of anti-rejection drugs, Joe is allowed to leave the hospital for home, less than 40 hours after his operation.

Given a two-week supply of anti-rejection drugs, Joe is allowed to leave the hospital for home, less than 40 hours after his operation.

 On a strict diet, but no longer on insulin, Joe is able to run errands normally...for the first time in years.

On a strict diet, but no longer on insulin, Joe is able to run errands normally...for the first time in years.

 Shavonna, 13 years old, was born with a small hole in her heart, a treatable condition if caught early. By the time her heart defect was detected, the damage had already been done.

Shavonna, 13 years old, was born with a small hole in her heart, a treatable condition if caught early. By the time her heart defect was detected, the damage had already been done.

 With her mother Christine, Shavonna is at ease and playful in the few weeks before school ends for the summer. At the summer break, Shavonna's doctors will place her on the transplant list.

With her mother Christine, Shavonna is at ease and playful in the few weeks before school ends for the summer. At the summer break, Shavonna's doctors will place her on the transplant list.

 Shavonna shops for some of her favorite snacks in her Jackson Heights neighborhood.

Shavonna shops for some of her favorite snacks in her Jackson Heights neighborhood.

 Graduating from the 8th Grade, Shavonna is now on the transplant list, and will enter the hospital.

Graduating from the 8th Grade, Shavonna is now on the transplant list, and will enter the hospital.

 The first steps into the children's wing at Mt. Sinai Hospital, Shavonna soon makes many friends of the staff and other young patients.

The first steps into the children's wing at Mt. Sinai Hospital, Shavonna soon makes many friends of the staff and other young patients.

 Staying in a good position on the transplant list means being sick enough to need the surgery, but healthy enough to survive it. Shavonna, by this point, has had more than a dozen open heart surgeries to correct the Atrial Septal Defect she was born with, to no avail. Here, she and her mother Christine await test results to track Shavonna's t-cell count. 

Staying in a good position on the transplant list means being sick enough to need the surgery, but healthy enough to survive it. Shavonna, by this point, has had more than a dozen open heart surgeries to correct the Atrial Septal Defect she was born with, to no avail. Here, she and her mother Christine await test results to track Shavonna's t-cell count. 

 Every transplant surgery is an elective one, and Shavonna needs to make the decision at that time whether or not to accept the donation. This is being explained to her now. 

Every transplant surgery is an elective one, and Shavonna needs to make the decision at that time whether or not to accept the donation. This is being explained to her now. 

 One short month later, Shavonna is asked that question, and decides that she will accept the donation and have the surgery.

One short month later, Shavonna is asked that question, and decides that she will accept the donation and have the surgery.

 Shavonna is moved to the operating table where she will be prepped for surgery.

Shavonna is moved to the operating table where she will be prepped for surgery.

 In a cruel twist, and unbeknownst to the medical staff, the large number of surgeries that Shavonna had previously, created a condition where scar tissue made further surgeries impossible. She died on the operating table when her incisions would not close again, even with sutures.

In a cruel twist, and unbeknownst to the medical staff, the large number of surgeries that Shavonna had previously, created a condition where scar tissue made further surgeries impossible. She died on the operating table when her incisions would not close again, even with sutures.

 At fourteen, Shavonna is laid to rest.

At fourteen, Shavonna is laid to rest.

 Shavonna's family and friends at her funeral.

Shavonna's family and friends at her funeral.

 Saul and Joan in happier times. "Lots of red meat and smoking in those years," Saul later recalled.

Saul and Joan in happier times. "Lots of red meat and smoking in those years," Saul later recalled.

 Technically too old and too thin to be on the transplant list, Saul is also too ill to go home. Here, Saul's doctors are inspecting his condition, and point out that his LVAD (an assist device for his failed heart valves) was visible beneath his skin.

Technically too old and too thin to be on the transplant list, Saul is also too ill to go home. Here, Saul's doctors are inspecting his condition, and point out that his LVAD (an assist device for his failed heart valves) was visible beneath his skin.

 With limited options, Saul's prospect do not look good.

With limited options, Saul's prospect do not look good.

 Joan kisses Saul's hand. At this point, he is unconscious and in the last days of his life. 

Joan kisses Saul's hand. At this point, he is unconscious and in the last days of his life. 

 The calls go out, and Saul's family arrives to say goodbye to their patriarch.

The calls go out, and Saul's family arrives to say goodbye to their patriarch.

 ...and then things change. A heatwave in NYC forces a power outage, cancelling all elective surgeries at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital about 40 blocks uptown from Mt. Sinai, which still has power. In this photo, Joan is being told that a heart, which could not be transplanted into a patient uptown, was at that time in a taxi on its way down to Saul.

...and then things change. A heatwave in NYC forces a power outage, cancelling all elective surgeries at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital about 40 blocks uptown from Mt. Sinai, which still has power. In this photo, Joan is being told that a heart, which could not be transplanted into a patient uptown, was at that time in a taxi on its way down to Saul.

 Hours later, Saul is recovering after a successful heart transplant at the age of 72. He lived for another 12 years.

Hours later, Saul is recovering after a successful heart transplant at the age of 72. He lived for another 12 years.

 Lisa, 34 and a mother of 2, caught a virus from her youngest daughter which destroyed the tissues of her heart. By this point, she had been on the transplant list for three months. 

Lisa, 34 and a mother of 2, caught a virus from her youngest daughter which destroyed the tissues of her heart. By this point, she had been on the transplant list for three months. 

 Lisa's son visits her in the hospital. With a very common blood type and her age, Lisa's chances are pretty good to get a heart, and her wait was relatively short, only four months.

Lisa's son visits her in the hospital. With a very common blood type and her age, Lisa's chances are pretty good to get a heart, and her wait was relatively short, only four months.

 Being prepped, Lisa has a short moment of fear and confusion as the sedative takes hold and she is asked to count backwards from 100...she makes it to 94.

Being prepped, Lisa has a short moment of fear and confusion as the sedative takes hold and she is asked to count backwards from 100...she makes it to 94.

 Meet Lisa's new heart.

Meet Lisa's new heart.

 Post-op, Lisa is taken to a recovery room, and placed in a warming bed to regulate her temperature.

Post-op, Lisa is taken to a recovery room, and placed in a warming bed to regulate her temperature.

 After brushing Lisa's hair, the nurse at left told me "She would've wanted to do that herself."

After brushing Lisa's hair, the nurse at left told me "She would've wanted to do that herself."

 A mere six hours after her surgery, Lisa see her scar for the first time.

A mere six hours after her surgery, Lisa see her scar for the first time.

 ...And 24 hours after her surgery, Lisa leaves the hospital for home.

...And 24 hours after her surgery, Lisa leaves the hospital for home.

 Some time later, Lisa is given the chance to meet the parents of the young man whose heart she now has.

Some time later, Lisa is given the chance to meet the parents of the young man whose heart she now has.

 Four years after her transplant, Lisa gave birth to twin girls, the first born of which was born with a heart-shaped birthmark.

Four years after her transplant, Lisa gave birth to twin girls, the first born of which was born with a heart-shaped birthmark.

 John, a retired Lieutenant in the New York Fire Dept. holds his first granddaughter in the commons room on the 8th floor of Mt. Sinai Hospital.

John, a retired Lieutenant in the New York Fire Dept. holds his first granddaughter in the commons room on the 8th floor of Mt. Sinai Hospital.

 John has a rare blood type, and has been waiting on the transplant list for longer than a year. He does two miles worth of laps around the eighth floor every day, trying to stay fit enough to remain on the transplant list.

John has a rare blood type, and has been waiting on the transplant list for longer than a year. He does two miles worth of laps around the eighth floor every day, trying to stay fit enough to remain on the transplant list.

 A veteran not only from Korea but also of every test in the hospital, John sleeps on the way to another biopsy.

A veteran not only from Korea but also of every test in the hospital, John sleeps on the way to another biopsy.

 John looks at his vitals in real time, and sees that he can do a few more laps.

John looks at his vitals in real time, and sees that he can do a few more laps.

 Flying in the face of hospital rules, John grills himself a steak in his room while talking to a fishing buddy.

Flying in the face of hospital rules, John grills himself a steak in his room while talking to a fishing buddy.

 Another biopsy, and John blocks the light with his Rosary.

Another biopsy, and John blocks the light with his Rosary.

 Looking down at the sidewalk below, John asks me "You see that guy down there...What blood type do you think he is?"

Looking down at the sidewalk below, John asks me "You see that guy down there...What blood type do you think he is?"