Donate Life Day at the capitol celebrates donor families and recipients

Cronkite News , Arizona PBS | Sydney Glenn

Donor families and transplant recipients celebrated life on Wednesday at the Donate Life day at the state capitol.

Mark Larson, a two-time kidney recipient, was on dialysis and unable to fulfill his passion of traveling. One day the phone rang and everything changed.

Jess Villegas Jr. died of a brain aneurysm. He was an organ donor and his death gave Larson his life back.

“He donated a kidney to me, but also saved 5 other peoples lives. So, he’s my hero,” Larson said. “When I recovered from my surgery, I wrote a letter to [Villegas’s] family and I told them what it meant to me to get my life back.”

The Donor Network of Arizona (DNA) is anonymous, but recipients can write letters to donor families through DNA.

“I didn’t hear anything for weeks and weeks, but one day out of the blue I get a phone call from this nice lady who says he name is Mercy Villegas and she is my donor’s mother,” Larson said. VIDEO, continue reading