120,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for any type of organ transplant. Most of them are awaiting kidney transplants. Our Katie Gibas spoke with one woman whose new kidney saved her life.
The need for organ donations is great in our community. A fact Marangeli Santiago-Freeman knows all too well. In her 20's she was diagnosed with kidney disease and would eventually need a new organ.
"I would have had to have dialysis for as long as I would be on there until I got a kidney. And then without it, eventually death," said Marangeli Santiago-Freeman, an organ donation recipient.
In August 2013, Marangeli's wife Gerry Freeman found out she was a match and donated her kidney.
"She was scared also. We both were. But she was more than willing because she would do anything to help me, and that was the main reason she did to give us more time together."
"I was very fortunate. I was very lucky. A lot of people are on the waiting list for a very long time," said Santiago-Freeman.
Now nine months later, the Freemans are working to spread the message about donating organs.
"It means everything to me. It's the gift of life. It's the best gift you can give to anyone. I never considered it, myself, or even thought of it until I was in the position to need one. So it makes you more aware of the need of donations," said Santiago-Freeman.
For every success story, there are thousands more waiting for transplants and donors.
"It's approximately 120,000 people in the United States are waiting for any type of transplant. Most of them are awaiting Kidney transplants. 80,000 are awaiting a kidney transplant," said Joseph Keith Melancon, the Upstate Transplant Surgery Director. He continued, "Only approximately a fourth of the people who need transplants will get them in any particular year. The death rate is very high. And that's why it's very important to get more donors."
If you choose to be an organ donor once you die, seven lives can be saved from the whole organ transplants alone. Plus many more people's quality of life can be improved through tissue, bone, skin and eye donations. If you're still hesitant, you can even specify what organs you choose to donate.