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Organizations across the country are raising awareness about organ donation this month. April is used to encourage Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors. It’s also a time to celebrate all the lives saved through organ donation.

106,109 men, women, and children are on the national transplant waiting list, according to organdonor.gov. And 17 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. 169 million people in the U.S. are registered donors and that seems like a lot! But not everyone who is on the registry is a perfect match for a waiting patient.

Being an organ donor is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone. At Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, we’ve had the honor to talk to some of the recipients. Karla had to have a double lung transplant from lung disease. Her first transplant happened in 2016, but her body rejected the organ causing her to have another lung transplant in 2019 with the help of Life Gift.

“I always talk about my donor, and I’ve seen people that have lost that family member, and they see us, the ones who receive the organ,” Karla said.

Karla has kept up with her donor’s family after meeting them in person. Her donor made the decision to become an organ donor in his teens.

“I’m very close to them through Facebook,” said Karla. “They see my life and they see their own son helping out so many people.”

Today Karla is much stronger and can even run. She says kids with her husband might even be in her future.

Blood donors play a big part in organ transplants. Karla had to have multiple blood transfusions during the procedure. She said it was a 15-hour surgery and without receiving blood, it wouldn’t have been possible.

Learn more about being an organ donor at lifegift.org. If you’d like to donate blood, visit giveblood.org/donate.

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