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'It saved my life'; Hundreds of Idahoans waiting for organ transplants

Posted at 4:39 PM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-24 16:15:03-04

More than 107,000 men, women and children are waiting for organ transplants that could save their lives.

To put that into perspective, even the largest NFL stadium could not fit the number of patients on the national transplant waiting list.

“When you're on a transplant list, you're on a list to either die or to receive an opportunity,” Intermountain Healthcare Medical Director of hepatology and liver transplantation Dr. Richard Gilroy said.

About 20 people die each day because the organ they need is not donated in time. If someone healthy dies, and if they are a donor they can save up to 9 different lives through organ donation. Just about anyone can be a living donor.

Donate Life America

“The most important thing is to discuss it with your family and with your friends. The country did more transplants last year than the year before and the reason is did more transplants is because more people considered organ donation,” Gilroy said.

Every 10 minutes that goes by, another person is added to the organ transplant waitlist, and out of the almost 108,000 people on this list, some are your neighbors.

“Of Idaho residents, there are at least 300 people waiting for an organ transplant and of those people, 2 of out every 5 will be removed from the waitlist because they either get too sick or they die,” Gilroy said.

After waiting almost two years on the transplant list, Martin Martinez received his liver transplant.

Martin Martinez

“It was pretty stressful getting sicker and sicker. Some days were good and some days were bad and watching everybody do stuff that I couldn't do...but there was always hope there,” Martin Martinez said.

Martinez had to stay in Salt Lake City for his transplant, and now he said he feels relieved to be back in Idaho with his family and feeling better than before.

Martin Martinez

“It saved my life. Before I never really thought about it but now, I see where it could benefit a lot of people and it benefited me,” Matinez said.

“It’s a good reminder to share with your family your decision to be a donor and consider the healing gift of sharing a living organ through the gift of transplantation,” Gilroy said.

How to become a donor