November is "Give Thanks, Give Life" month, an effort to raise awareness about the desperate need for more organ donors. Right now there are nearly 120,000 people on the transplant waitlist nationally, including nearly 2,000 in the Pacific Northwest.
One person who knows that a lot about the waitlist is Sarah Perez. The last time we talked to her was in May 2016 and she was in desperate need of a life saving double lung transplant. Cystic fibrosis damaged her lungs badly.
“The doctor's like, 'Oh you can’t have kids. You’re going to die early. He’s going to have to take care of you.' Like all these different things,” Perez said in May 2016.
Earlier this year, she got a phone call that changed her life.
“It was the University (of Washington Medical Center) and they said, ‘Hey, I think we have a set of lungs for you’. And I’m like, ‘What? Are you sure you’re calling the right person?’ And they said, ‘Yes. I think we have a set of lungs. How fast can you get up here?'”
As you can imagine, she was there just minutes later. That transplant saved her life.
“I can’t say thank you and how blessed I am. There’s just not a word,” Perez said. “My lung function before transplant was 18 percent. My lung function now is 120-ish.
“I think about my donor’s family every single day and my donor. It’s just constant prayers for that family,” Perez added. “It’s just amazing just being able to live and not just exist and have a purpose that you’re here for a reason.”
This mother of two and wife just purchased an RV to go camping, and this winter she plans to snowboard. She can once again go back to living the life she dreamed of.
“Each breath is literally a miracle.”
If you are interested in becoming an organ donor you can find more information by calling LifeCenter Northwest or by going to their website.