'Ray Of Sunshine': Heather McNamara, NY Recipient Of Groundbreaking Surgery, Dies At 22

Heather McNamara, who stole hearts across the tristate area after undergoing groundbreaking cancer surgery as a child, has died at the age of 22.

Heather McNamara.

Heather McNamara.

Photo Credit: Facebook users Taylor's Hope Foundation, Philip D // NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

The Long Island resident from Islip Terrace died Saturday, June 1, due to multiple organ failure after spending months hospitalized in intensive care from a bacterial infection, her mother Tina announced.

McNamara became a familiar face to many in 2011, when she appeared in a commercial for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

In the black and white spot, the then 7-year-old recounted how two hospitals turned her family away before Dr. Tomoaki Kato agreed to perform the surgery, which had never been done on a child.

The young girl spent 23 hours under the knife, during which Kato temporarily removed six of her organs in order to remove a baseball-sized cancerous tumor that had been lodged among her major organs.

“And I was just so happy to be better and cancer free,” a young McNamara says in the commercial.

The rare surgery was later featured on an episode of the hit ABC medical drama, “The Good Doctor.”

McNamara went on to graduate from Islip East High School and, inspired by the medical team that saved her life, became an EMT with Exchange Ambulance of the Islips. She also volunteered her time with the New York Blood Center and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

In a tribute on Facebook, Exchange Ambulance remembered McNamara as “a bright and welcoming light to our department and to all who met her.”

“She will be remembered as a vibrant, caring, kind, funny, and warm ray of sunshine," the agency said. "Her ability to make connections with people and empathize with patients to make them comfortable was second to none."

Funeral services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 7, at St. Peter the Apostle R.C. Church in Islip Terrace.

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