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Organ Donor Month Hopes To Encourage More People To Help Save Lives

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CBS Baltimore (con't)

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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.

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