BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Eighteen Americans die every day because they don’t have an organ donor. April is Organ Donation Month.

Andrea Fujii reports one gift can save dozens of lives.

It’s hard to believe 4-year-old Olivia almost died when she was 7-months-old. Her heart was failing and needed a transplant immediately.

“It’s a mother’s nightmare. She’s a baby,” said Amanda Strama, mother.

Within 12 hours, Olivia had a donor.

“It was amazing. I remember the nurse coming in and saying, ‘Don’t go anywhere. The doctor is on the phone. We have a heart,'” said Strama.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.

More than 2,000 Marylanders are waiting for a transplant, but only 48 percent of residents are organ donors.

One of the main reasons people don’t donate is they think doctors won’t try to save their lives, but experts say that’s simply not true.

“The team that facilitates your end of life wish is separate from your doctor or your EMT that is doing everything possible to save your life,” said Natalie Benavides, Donate Life Maryland.

One organ donor can save nine lives. Donating tissue can heal 50 people. One cornea will give sight to two people.

As April is Donate Life Month, Olivia’s parents hope their donor’s family know how much they sacrificed.

“She’s still going from their tragic event, what came out of it. We wish they would definitely know that,” said Alex Strama, father.

There are two ways to become an organ donor: when you renew or apply for a driver’s license and online. Click here for more information.

Comments (2)
  1. David J Undis says:

    Your story about Organ Donation highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations.

    There are now over 110,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50% of these people dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

    There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Everyone who is willing to receive should be willing to give.

    Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling
    1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 14,500 members as of this writing, including 248 members in Maryland.

    Please contact me – Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers – if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you’re interested. My email address is My phone number is 615-351-8622.

    1. george says:

      Interesting thought, David…but, as great as the group may be, how does it help the people that need organs NOW?? MY thinking is, if those 14,000 were able to donate NOW, then that would help bring down the need a bit, plus, it puts the donor right at the top of the list should THEY need an organ…

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