Texas Medical Center kicks off National Donate for Life month

HOUSTON - They are stories of inspiration and hope to help kick off the Texas Medical Center's fifth-annual celebration of life.

It's a part of a national month-long awareness campaign that recognizes those who have received, given or continue to wait for life-saving transplants.

Transplant recipients and donors along with their families shared their emotional testimonies in front of The Methodist Hospital on Thursday.

Across the country, 117,000 men, women and children are waiting for a life-saving transplants. In Houston, more than 3,000 residents are waiting for their second chance.

Every day, 75 lives are saved through organ transplantation across the country.

Shelby Gonzales is a mother who choose to donate her 11-month-old daughter's organs after she was killed in a tragic accident.

"Although she's gone physically, she still lives in someone else. Her heart's still beating," Gonzales said.

For the first time, on Jan. 26, Gonzales got the chance to meet Braydin McClelland, the little boy who was once dying from an enlarged heart. He received Gonzales' daughter's heart, which saved his life.

"Meeting him and seeing him and to see how great he is doing confirmed to us that we made the right choice," Gonzalez said.

Currently, 3.6 million donors are registered on the Donate Life Texas Registry, the official database of Texans who designate themselves to be organ, eye and tissue donors. When the registry was created in 2006, it generated only 72,000 registrants its first year.

Countless others have their lives renewed through tissue donation and many others have their sight restored through corneal transplants.

Even so, 18 people die every day due to the lack of available transplantable organs. Every 10 minutes, someone receives the overwhelming news that his or her only hope for survival is a transplant.

To become an organ donor, register online at www.donatelifetexas.org or at any Department of Public Safety office or through the Department of Motor Vehicles when renewing vehicle tags.

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