POSTED: Friday, December 17, 2010 - 8:38am
UPDATED: Friday, December 17, 2010 - 8:44am
Friends and family are celebrating life today in McAllen because of 65 successful organ transplant operations in the past three years.
But there are over 100,000 people across America in need of organ donations, including about 10,000 in Texas.
Jose Vela is a kidney transplant recipient. Through a combination of having diabetes and taking medication over his life Vela's kidney's began to fail and his doctor became concerned he might need a transplant.
'When I first started seeing him they were at 23 percent. And the thing is, is once you get to ten percent, then at that point you need to have a transplant. So as I visited him over the months and my kidney functions were lower and lower so it got to the point... So I really knew it was coming it was just a matter of when it was coming," said Jose Ramiro Vela, Kidney Transplant Recipient.
Vela did not ask his family to give him their kidney's, instead they volunteered themselves, including his 19 year old niece Priscila Mata.
"There were no matches out of everyone who was tested and I just automatically said I wanted to try. And I think I kinda knew automatically that it was going to be me, so I never looked back after that," said Priscila Mata, Kidney Transplant Donor.
"'When my wife told me that Priscila was interested in donating her kidney my immediate reaction was no, not Priscila. I couldn't see a young lady doing that, especially at her age, at the time she was 19," said Vela.
Vela underwent the transplant and everything has been fine since then, but even with a transplant hospital in McAllen capable of doing transplants, most patients have to wait months and even years before a transplant organ becomes available.
The main theme of Gift of Life Reunion was how important it is to become a donor. That's why they had a way for anyone who wasn't already a donor to sign up.
If you're interested in becoming a donor, they say the quickest way to do it is to visit save8.org
Save 8 representatives said that just one person can save eight lives through organ donation.
Mata wants people to know organ donation doesn't hurt your personal health.
"It's not as bad as other people would think, like just because you only have one kidney doesn't mean your life is going to be bad or you're less healthy. You can live a perfectly normal life with only one kidney," said Mata.
But doctor's said that if you want to become a donor to make sure your family is aware of your decision so that your wishes can be carried out properly.