Organ donors in southern Arizona honored for life-saving gifts

Organ donors in southern Arizona honored for life-saving gifts
Families shared stories of loved ones whose organ donations saved lives (Source: Tucson News Now).

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Organ donors and their families were honored today in a special ceremony hosted by Banner University Medical Center Tucson.
An estimated 80 people showed up to share their loved one's stories and promote the Donate Life Arizona registry.

According to Sara Pace Jones with Donor Network of Arizona, the need for organ donors is growing.
Right now, Pace Jones said there are more than 2,300 people on the organ transplant waiting list, a majority needing kidneys.
"A total of 110 people died on the waiting list last year," she said,
National waiting averages can be up to five years for kidney, 11 months for liver, four months for heart, two years for pancreas, and four months for lung transplants according to Pace Jones.
"Just the types of things that lead to organ failure are on the increase. Things like diabetes, things like high-blood pressure, those are things that lead a person's organs to fail and then they need a transplant," she explained.
Sunday's event gave comfort to families still healing from their loss.
Mandi Miranda's brother Gabriel Villanueva died in a car accident on Roger Road in Tucson two years ago.
"He saved five lives, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and even tissue," she shared.

Jose Perez's son, Dante Perez, died in a car accident too. He made the decision to donate his son's organs in the moment and offers this advice.

"If you're able to pre-register, and do the things, it takes away a lot of the unknown," he explained. "If I had that knowledge prior, it would've made it easier when you're going through that time."  
Stella Garcia, an organ recipient, was one of the speakers today. She thanked all the donors families for being there to support each other.

"I feel very fortunate," said Garcia. "It was very hard, I would cry a lot. Cause knowing that someone lost their life so I could live is sometimes difficult to take."

Her message to anyone thinking about signing up is, "Please sign up to be donors and please tell your family. And because thanks to that, I'm here."

There's a potential for an organ and tissue donor to save up to eight lives. To learn more about how to register as an organ donor, click here.

MOBILE USERS: Download our app on your Apple and Android devices.

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.