Family gives gift of life

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- In a time of tragedy, a Grand Junction family made an audacious decision to give the gift of life when their young son died.

Tim and April Ferguson lost their son, Chance, all too soon.

“He died at 12-years-old. He had nothing but potential in front of him, and this is one way for him to start living up to his potential," said April.

The Ferguson family decided to donate Chance's organs, skin and tissue to help save lives. It was a way for the family to "keep Chance alive."

“We might be going through our own trauma, but somewhere out there, people's lives are better because of it," said Ferguson.

More than 116,000 Americans are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

Donor recipient Lella Young is a perfect example of someone whose life has been saved by organ donation. Lella was born with Viliary Atesia and needed a liver transplant.

“Lella was in the pediatric ICU for 32 days, and she was on life-support for part of it. We were praying that the right liver would come at the right time," explained Lella’s mother, Lyndell Young.

The Young family's prayers were answered when a 17-year-old car accident victim's family decided to donate their daughter's liver.

“We were just really happy that one was coming and was going to save her," says Young.

Signing up to be an organ, tissue and eye donor is as easy as going to the DMV when you get your drivers license. Workers will ask you if you'd like to sign up to be an organ, tissue and eye donor. If you tell them yes, they'll put a little red heart on your driver’s license to indicate you're a donor.

A common myth is having a heart on your driver's license means medical professionals may not save your life, but Andrea Smith with Donor Alliance says you shouldn't let that hold you back.

"[That] is of course very untrue. The first and only priority of all medical professionals is to save lives when sick and injured people come to the hospital,” explained Smith.

Becoming a donor is a way to save the lives of many. For the Ferguson family the loss of their son did just that.

“Maybe that was his purpose on this planet... maybe it was just to be here for a short while so he could save those lives," said Ferguson.

April is National Donate Life Month. Over 2,000 people living in Colorado are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Of the patients waiting, 1,637 people are in need of a kidney and over 15,000 are in need of a liver transplant.

Every 10 minutes, another name is added to the national transplant waiting list.

Donor Alliance is holding an event at the Grand Junction Ale House on April 24th from 4 to 7 p.m. to raise awareness for National Donate Life Month.

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