Posted on April 1, 2010 at 5:01 PM
Updated today at 6:00 PM******
VIRGINIA BEACH -- April is National Donate Life month.
Officials at Lifenet Health say there's a critical shortage of donors in Virginia. On average, three Virginians die each week because an organ hasn't been found in time.
Frank Bryce was one of the lucky ones. He wasn't sure he'd see his 67th birthday, which is next month. He had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. He was on oxygen 24 hours a day.
Even with that, my ability to walk was limited. I couldn't even drive," he recalled.
Without a lung transplant, Bryce's doctor said he'd have maybe six more months.
After two and a half years on the list, he got the call to prepare for surgery.
"They literally gave me the gift of life. That's a stunning thing to present to somebody," he said.
Susie Diaz lost her 19-year-old daughter Maria in a car accident. Diaz says Maria got her family and friends to step up to being organ and tissue donors and put it on their licenses.
"She said somehow, someway, I will affect someone's life and this effect will leave them changed in a good way hopefully. So we figure the plan must have been that she would be a donor," said Diaz.
Maria's tissue had helped 56 people. Her corneas were used to give sight to an 11-year-old boy and a 31-year-old man.
Diaz says knowing all the good that's come from Maria's sudden death has helped them with the grieving process.
"We know that our little girl didn't die in vain, that in her death the good that follows the bad is all the people she was able to help with the gifts that she was able to donate."
Right now 2500 Virginians are waiting for a transplant.
If you want to sign up as an organ and tissue donor you can do it at DMV or you can head to the Save7Lives Website.