KRISTINE GALVAN | MyFoxHouston
HOUSTON - More than 1.2 million Texans are now part of the state's organ donor registry. But, with more and more people needing transplants, advocates say it’s just not enough.
Nearly four years ago, a teenager, Robby Trevino Jr., developed a fatal heart condition, collapsed and saved State Senator Mario Gallego's life.
There was some controversy at the time. Critics thought the senator, who admitted abusing alcohol, got special treatment on the transplant wait list.
But in then end, he was grateful.
"It's nice to see the sun come up everyday," he said at a reunion with Trevino's parents two years after his operation. "And it’s because of Robby."
Gallegos became an organ recipient in January 2007. Today, there are 3000 Houston-area moms and dads, sons and daughters who are in the position Gallegos was in before Robby Trevino gave him a second shot at life.
Nationwide, advocates are going to new extremes to meet the need of organ donors.
New York is starting a new pilot program where groups are jumping in on 911 calls, following ambulances in an effort to increase donations.
"Anything that can help increase organ donor awareness and increase the number of available organs for transplants, especially in New York which is really struggling behind the curve, let's see it if works," said Laura Frnka, Director of Communications for LifeGift. "But we have to be really careful. I would recommend that they be really careful because one of the biggest misperceptions that we deal with with organ donation is if a doctor or a nurse knows that I want to be an organ donor, they're not going to work as hard to save my life. And so there is a real careful line that I think needs to be drawn between doing something like New York is doing and not perpetuating that myth."
Texas has tried some unusual tactics. Back in 2003, lawmakers considered a bill that would've basically made organ donation automatic for everyone unless they opted out.
The bill didn’t get out of committee. Instead, the state established a donor registry in 2005, but advocates haven’t completely given up on the idea.
"LifeGift thinks maybe it should be tried in a different state," said Frnka. "It was tried in Texas. It failed because the mindset of Texans is that they don't want to be told what to do."