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Transplant recipient letter to the editor: Celebrate National Donate Life Month

We thank Nieves, of Alamosa, for sharing her heartfelt advocacy for the cause of organ, eye and tissue donation with her hometown newspaper, The Valley Courier, earlier this month. Nieves is a liver transplant recipient; read her message:

Letter: Celebrate National Donate Life Month this April at Alamosa Tree Planting

After being diagnosed with kidney disease, I was on dialysis for four years when my sister offered to be a living donor and give me one of her kidneys. She was a match, but about a year after testing, due to other health complications was no longer a viable donor.

After hearing the bad news, I decided to ask my doctor if I could get placed on the transplant waiting list. After being on the list for a year, I received the call that a kidney had become available. In October 2013, my daughter and son-in-law drove me from Alamosa to the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, but when we got there, I was told there was something wrong with the kidney and it was no longer viable for a transplant. We were on our way back to Alamosa, after hearing the bad news, when I got another call from the transplant center. Another kidney had become available and seemed to be a perfect match. We returned to the hospital and my long-awaited transplant finally took place.

It has been almost three years since my transplant and I am doing really well. I am now able to enjoy time with my family, go to church and care for my grandchildren. My new kidney has given me a second chance to enjoy life. So, this April, in celebration of National Donate Life Month and in memory of my donor, I will be giving life by planting a tree in Carroll Park at 10AM on Saturday, April 30.

I invite my community of Alamosa residents to help me raise awareness for this important cause by attending my tree dedication or joining in on the month’s other celebrations, especially National Blue & Green Day, which takes place on Friday, April 15. On this day, the public is encouraged to wear blue and green in an effort to promote the success of organ, eye and tissue transplantation and the need for registered donors.

Saying yes to organ, eye and tissue donation saves lives. Transplants offer patients a new chance at healthy and productive lives, returning them to their families, friends and communities. At the time of their death, just one donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and save or heal more than 50 lives through eye and tissue donation.

Colorado residents can register their decision to be organ, eye and tissue donors at the time of death by saying ‘yes’ each time they obtain or renew a driver’s license or state ID, or at www.DonateLifeColorado.org. Anyone can register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, regardless of age, race, medical history, religion or income. Even those with chronic conditions, such as hepatitis and diabetes, can register to give the gift of life at any age.