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Rio Grande Valley Resident Talks How You Can Save Lives At Special Event at Harlingen Medical Center

Rio Grande Valley Resident Talks How You Can Save Lives At Special Event at Harlingen Medical Center

04-23-2015

Harlingen – Organ donation. It is not a topic of conversation most people in the Rio Grande Valley engage in too often. But, it is a very important topic of conversation since, here, in the Valley there is a high need for kidney transplants, 90%-plus high. That's a substantial amount of residents. April is National Donate Life Month and Harlingen Medical Center has partnered with a very special San Benito resident to ensure organ donation is a topic of conversation – all in an effort to save lives.

Victor BlancoVictor Blanco, a life-long resident of San Benito, is an organ recipient and he is on a mission to educate residents of the Valley on the importance of organ donation and the incredible impact it can have on one's life, and family.

"For me, it was a real Blessing from God. It was a second chance at life," said Blanco. "I couldn't believe that I was going to get a kidney after being placed on a recipient list and waiting for two years and four months. It seemed like an eternity, but it finally happened, and boy was I grateful."

Blanco will be the featured speaker at Harlingen Medical Center's "Wear Blue and Green Day" observance event, scheduled for Friday, April 10, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. in the Administration Classroom, in which the hospital will invite both employees, and the community, to come in and learn about organ donation, registering to be a donor, and the incredible impact the donation of an organ has on a recipient and their family. The Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA) will also host an Organ Donor Registration Drive, at the hospital's Main Lobby, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Those interested in the topic – may ask questions and register on-site to become an organ donor.

"Part of our commitment to our community is education," said Brenda Ivory, President and Chief Executive Officer at Harlingen Medical Center. "We are very proud to bring the topic of organ donation to the forefront with the people who both work here, caring for people, and the people we serve – when they are in our care. Education allows people to make informed, productive decisions. And, with this event, that is what we aim to achieve – informed, productive decisions."

According to the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA), the only independent, federally designated Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) serving Central and South Texas, Hispanics rank among the most in need for organ transplants. The high need is due to the fact that many of the conditions leading to the need for a transplant, such as diabetes and hypertension, occur with greater frequency among this population. Only 20% of the U.S. population and 30% of donors are Hispanics. They make up 45 percent of the Texas transplant waiting list. Currently there are more than 4,500 Hispanic men, women and children that account for the high percentage of Texans on the transplant waiting list.

"Every year in Texas, there are more than 600 donors of all ethnic backgrounds and races who save the lives of thousands of people. Last year alone, more than 184 Hispanic Texans received organ transplants," said Esmeralda Perez, TOSA Communications and Community Development Manager. "Making a decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor will help save thousands of lives that would otherwise be lost."

"The fact that I received a new kidney is an absolute blessing to me, and my family," said Blanco. "I still have my life, I enjoy my life, I get to enjoy my family, but now, I too want to give back to my community and that is why I engage in partnerships – such as what I am doing with Harlingen Medical Center,"

And, it is an appropriate partnership for Blanco and Harlingen Medical Center. It was in the Emergency Room at Harlingen Medical Center, back in November of 2010, with an MRI, that it was discovered that his kidneys never fully developed – causing him to experience medical issues, such as swelling feet.

Blanco was immediately placed on dialysis and was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, also known as chronic kidney disease.

"The diagnosis affected me, but I had to stay positive," recalled Blanco. "I experienced both the good and the bad. It was not easy going through dialysis, but I knew I had to forge forward and be focused on doing what I had to do to stay healthy. Exercise became a big part of my life. I would run two miles almost every day to get my mind off of my medical issue. It was a trying time, but my faith in God got me through it, along with my family and friends' prayers."

A second chance at life, which is what Blanco, says he was blessed with when received the organ donation.

According to TOSA, there are currently less than one million Texans registered as organ donors on the Donate Life — Texas Registry. The lack of registered donors is due to the fact that many Texans believe they are still registered.

In 2005, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), created a new online organ, eye and tissue donor registry, to encourage many to re-register.

To learn more about how you can become a registered organ donor and/or participate in National Donate Life Month Awareness, contact the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance at (866) 687-0277 or visitwww.txorgansharing.org. In addition, if you wish to attend the "Blue and Green Day" Observance event at Harlingen Medical Center, please RSVP to (956) 365-1848.

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