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Roxanne Watson ’87

Alumni Success Story

Roxanne Watson

With a New Heart Comes a New Challenge

After receiving a new heart in 2010, Roxanne Watson ’87 has been on a mission to educate people about the life-saving value of organ donation. Through her work with New York’s Campaign 4 Life and Donate Life NY, she has personally signed up more than 10,000 potential donors – believed to be a world record.

Watson's efforts have led Rockland County to the top position in the state for number of organ donor sign-ups. She was also selected as one of six winners among more than 3,500 entries in a worldwide competition on life-changing goals, for her efforts to create a global organ donor foundation.

In 2006 Watson, then 51, suffered a heart attack and was told she would need a transplant. The operation took place July 16, 2010, at Montefiore Medical Center. Her donor, 23-year-old Mike Bovill, was a Coast Guard serviceman who was returning to base on his motorcycle when he was struck by a truck on the George Washington Bridge on July 11, 2010.

Watson later got the surprise of her life when, as a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show, the family of her formerly anonymous heart donor came on stage to meet her. “Michael Bovill was a true American hero who served his country proudly and saved five lives,” Watson says. She is determined to encourage as many people as possible to sign a donor card, especially among the minority population, which statistically needs the most organs.

She also spreads the word about organ donation in different ways. In 2016, Watson won a Folio: Eddie Award, for ”What a Silent Heart Attack Sounds Like,” an article published in the American Heart Association’s Heart Insight magazine. In 2017, she was featured in a national television advertising campaign and the home-improvement show George to the Rescue.

Watson has worked in retail and is currently studying Culinary Arts at RCC. She earned an AA in Liberal Arts: Humanities and Social Sciences in 1987 and a BA in History from Columbia University in 1989.

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