Give The Gift of Life This Valentine's Day

(18 NEWS) - This Valentine's Day give someone more than just your heart. Give your eyes, organs and soft tissue too. Why? Because it's not only Valentine's Day, it's also National Organ Donor Day.

New legislation also took affect Tuesday, allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to join the New York State Donate Life Registry. Each day 22 people die waiting for an organ transplant. Donations from just one person can save eight of those lives.

Sayre resident David Webster received a heart transplant in 2014. After suffering from mild heart attack symptoms and blood clots doctors discovered his heart was beating at a rate of about 15 percent, a normal rate being around 86 percent.
"So I ended up being put on all the machines that were out there," Webster said. "And I had two weeks on the machines. Fortunately enough a donor came in and I had a heart within about 48 hours. It's very rare that a heart comes in that quick, hey on average come in once every 8 weeks."

Horseheads residents Holley and Andy Campbell lost their son Jake when he was about two months old. They said their decision to donate was their way of making the best out of the worst  situation imaginable.
"How can we find at least some positive out of all of this?" Andy Campbell said. "Something to keep Jake's memory alive in some way and the answer to that question was organ donation."

Since they first met Jake's heart recipient Beckham, the Campbell's have kept in touch.

"We he was three we met for the first time and we have seen them over half a dozen times since then," Holly Campbell said. "He refers to Ben and Alex as his heart brothers and they are amazing when they get together, they have so much fun playing. It's been a really incredible connection for us."

Webster hopes to make a similar connection with the mother of his donor someday soon.

"One day we're going to meet, we haven't met yet and we'll get the stethoscope out so she can hear her son's heart," Webster said. "She's waiting for that day and so am I."

Both the Campbell's and Webster said they're hoping the new law will help boost donor numbers, as only 27 percent of New Yorkers are registered donors as compared to about 50 percent nationwide.

"All the young kids that I've talked to that don't have that are not organ donor's I talk to them and explain the situation and how important it is to be an organ donor," Webster said. "They say, 'yeah no problem' and end up signing up."
"It's so much better to know your organs are doing good on this Earth after you've left it, rather than having them go to waste," Holly Campbell said. "Knowing that there's a family out there that can experience all of the amazing things that we have in this world that they wouldn't be able to otherwise because someone said yes."

If you'd like to register to become an organ donor visit the Donate Life website.

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