The Southwest Transplant Alliance (STA), a non-profit organ procurement organization based in Dallas, has saved a record-breaking number of lives for the second year in a row.
With the help of 385 donors, the STA made 1,267 organs available for transplant in 2017. This marks STA’s highest number of organs transplanted and organ donors in a single year, topping last year’s record of 1,210 from 380 donors.
Many of these organs offer a second chance at life to people like Shirley Holden.
"Well it started a long time ago," said Holden. "I've had an enlarged heart for years, but I was able to adapt to that."
Her doctor visits at Seton Medical Center in Austin started in October of 2016. She received devastating news in January.
"He said you're in heart failure and he said if you had gone back to work in six months you would've been dead," said Holden.
Holden was fitted with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) in February. This machine buys patients more time as it helps the heart pump blood to the rest of the body.
For months, Holden's family stayed by her side, caring for her as they anxiously waited for the phone to ring. Her seven-year-old granddaughter even acted as her stay-at-home doctor.
"Scared and I thought she was going to die," said Rachel Titus. "But it was really fun to help my Grandma out."
"I have lots of faith, lots of faith," said Mack Jenkins Jr., Holden's fiance. "I knew God would survive her and prolong her life if we just kept our faith and done our part."
Their prayers were finally answered as the year came to a close.
"I had the LVAD from February until October, when I was finally put on the transplant list. Within two weeks I got the call," said Holden.
A generous gift, that Holden will never take for granted.
"Within two days, I was up walking and I'm just so grateful to that donor who, he or his family, saw fit to donate life," said Holden.
Holden also wrote a letter to her donor's family. Part of it can be read below.
"This will be a joy, an honor, a privilege and a huge responsibility to carry a part of you with me on this journey of life. What a precious gift you have given me. I will thank you all the days of my life."
Holden will have to take it easy for the next year or so as doctors monitor her heart for any signs of rejection. She and her fiance plan to wed in March.
If you're interested in becoming an organ donor, click here.
Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, which serves 56 counties in Central and South Texas, also had a record-breaking year. In 2017, 170 donors saved the lives of 568 patients.
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