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A man waits for his lifesaving gift for nearly eight years

National Donate Life Month
Posted at 6:44 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 19:44:38-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — National Donate Life Month is in April, a month dedicated to raising awareness and encouraging individuals to become lifesavers.

For people waiting on organ donations, it can average from three to five years to get an organ.

But for Raymond Aguilar, it was different. He waited nearly eight years for a lifesaving gift.

On March 27, 2021, he received a call from Metairie, La. that would change his life forever.

Aguilar said when he plays the voice message saying there was a kidney waiting for him, it brings back memories.

"Everything just flashes before me like it was yesterday. And so, it makes my heart go a little bit quick," said Aguilar.

At 11:40 a.m., the call he had been waiting on for seven years and four months came in.

"I started thinking, 'what was I doing the night before? What was the person doing the night before that brought his life to an end before giving me his organ?'" said Aguilar.

He started to think about all the events that had to happen for him to get a kidney from a non-living donor.

"So you know those things are going through my mind because it would had to be in place for all that to occur," he said.

Because of COVID-19 protocols still in place last year, no one could join Aguilar at the hospital.

"At that point, I started calling everybody that I know," he said. "I called up my kids, I called up my dad, I called everybody.

"I'm driving, making phone calls, calling my doctors and calling everybody else that I care about and letting them know what’s going on and I’m giving everybody instructions in case that I don’t make it back," he added.

In 2013, Aguilar started dialysis. Every night, he used a machine while he slept to clean out his blood from any toxins.

Night after night, year after year, and after seven years of dialysis, life had taken a turn.

"Towards the last 6-7 months my whole life deteriorated," Aguilar said.

He had reached the point that he was not making the necessary clearance he needed.

So, his life changed dramatically within those six months.

"And it affected me because the toxins built up," Aguilar said. "It affected my thought process. It affected my emotions. You would have a tendency not to be a patient, and of course. you’re always wanting to sleep."

During that time, Aguilar still managed to run his business.

"I got to the point that I decided it was time to bail out (on my business) and pretty much just kind of put trust in my faith," he said.

"He's done remarkably well," said Dr. Luke Shen, who performed Aguilar's transplant.

"Whenever I see him down the hallway, he says 'thank you,' he's just so appreciative. It's wonderful to see that in life," Shen said.

Shen is the Medical Director of the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance.

He’s also an organ donor.

He stresses the importance of letting the families know the donor's wishes, because he has witnessed people who have signed up to be organ donors.

And families don't know the person's wishes, and someone's wishes aren't fulfilled, leaving potential recipients waiting longer.

"I voiced my wishes to my family. My family knows exactly what I want to do if something were to happen to me and the word needs to get out to your family. (they) need to know what you want," said Shen.

Aguilar doesn’t know who his angel is. He’s reached out to the Alliance to send a thank you to the family for their loved one's gift of life.

He posted a message on his Facebook page also for the family.

Raymond Aguilar

Dr. Shen says there are about 100,000 people on a Kidney transplant waiting list.

You can sign up to be an organ donor when you renew your license.

List of things you can donate:

  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys
  • Pancreas

For more information click here.