J.T. Rhodes has felt how organ donation can change a life. The Jacksonville native was out of work, exhausted and lost in a perpetual mental fog during a year when kidney failure forced him onto dialysis. Trained as a certified public accountant, he couldn’t manage to balance his checkbook. “It sucked. It was the worst year of my life,” he said. A transplant from a stranger ended that 17 years ago, Rhodes said, and the 61-year-old has rebuilt his career, his heath and his life. “It’s really, truly saved my life. … I’m truly blessed,” said Rhodes, now the president of a nonprofit group called the Transplant Recipients International Organization. That experience led him and others to spend Saturday at The Jacksonville Landing talking to people about organ donation as part of Donate Life Day, a nationwide push to put public attention on the subject. Kim McMahon, a flight attendant from Pensacola, told people about her son William, who was 16 when his liver inexplicably stopped working. On the brink of death, he was flown to Shands Hospital in Gainesville for a transplant that saved him. The high school honor student was surfing again within months, his mother said, but the second liver failed too, and he died waiting for another transplant in May 2005. That same year, more than 2 million Americans died, and McMahon said many of those doubtless carried organs to their graves that could have changed other lives. Whether to donate is a personal choice, and whatever people decide is fine, said McMahon, 52. But she doesn’t want people to die without ever talking about their choice with their families. When a transplant is needed next, “it could be your 16-year-old, through no fault of your own,” she said.