Source: Lompoc Record

Marian ceremony honors gift of life

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Adelita Garcia raises a new flag at Marian Medical Center that will fly when organs are donated or transplanted. Garcia donated a kidney to her father, Adel Kurdi. //Len Wood/Staff

In 1995, Joe Darga was a sprightly 61-year-old who occasionally felt a little tired in the afternoons.

The mild fatigue had serious origins and the Goleta man eventually was diagnosed with an enlarged heart due to a viral infection. Within six years, he began to plan for and await his death.

But Darga, who is now 76, was able to tell his story on the front lawn of Marian Medical Center Friday because of a much-appreciated organ donor.

“There’s no way to describe getting the gift of life,” Darga said. “Life is more meaningful, more precious after receiving a donation, because you’ve been on the verge of death.”

Marian hosted the organ donation awareness event in honor of April as National Donate Life Month, and to inspire more people to save lives through being an organ, eye or tissue donor.

As part of the ceremony, the hospital had one of its employees, Adelita Garcia, hoist a white flag with the words “Donate Life” in front of the building at 1400 E. Church St.

Garcia, 24, donated one of her kidneys to her father when she was 18 years old.

The flag will be raised each time an organ donation occurs at Marian as a reminder of the generous gift.

More than 20,000 California residents are on the wait-list for organs, but last year in the state only 806 people donated 2,479 organs, according to event organizers.

People interested in making a commitment to donate can register online at, or in Spanish the website is www.donevida

Also become a donor by checking “yes” on the application or renewal form for a driver’s license.