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