TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - April is National Donate Life Month. In honor of that Tucson Medical Center is dedicating its newest patio to donors who saved the lives of others, after their own lives ended.
Statewide 272,000 people signed up to be organ donors in 2017 which continued the five-year record-breaking trend in the state. In 2017, the number of donors who gave the gift of life in Arizona went up 16 percent compared to the previous year. 267 people saved the lives of 701 people in 2017 through organ donations.
Across Arizona in 2017 there were many life changing organ donations. Some of which were the 240 heart valve donations that went largely to pediatric patients, along with 778 skin tissue donations for burn victims and breast cancer patients. There were also 1,087 corneal transplants.
One Tucson family knows from experience what its like to save a life through an organ donation - the Arias family. Victoria Arias died at 18 in a drowning accident. She didn't get her license before tragically drowning, so she wasn't able to decide herself whether she wanted to be an organ donor. Her parents, Michael and Lorena Arias, decided to donate her organs after her passing. They say it's what she would've wanted.
"Victoria was very intent on becoming a trauma room surgeon, to save lives," Michael Arias says of his daughter. "And that's the main reason we did that. We knew that's exactly what she would want."
Through her organ donation, Victoria saved the lives of four people. Her lungs, liver, heart, and kidneys went to those in need of life-saving transplants. Her parents say they hope to one day thank those who now have their daughter's organs for keeping a bit of her alive.
Michael Arias says he would tell those recipients, "Thank you. For keeping a part of our daughter alive … Know that we don't have any hard feelings. There's no jealousy, you know. We are deeply thankful for them and ...for our paths to have crossed in life."
Tucson Medical Center will be dedicating the Garden of Life Memorial patio on Tuesday to honor those, much like Victoria Arias, who saved the lives of others through organ donations.
The patio features a garden of flowers and a wall of memorial plaques, commemorating the generosity of organ donors who have changed and saved people's lives.
If you're interested in becoming an organ donor click here to sign up.