Donate Life Month: Local teen lives to tell of heart transplant - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Donate Life Month: Local teen lives to tell of heart transplant

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KENNEWICK, WA - Did you know April is Donate Life Month? It's a nod to organ, eye, and tissue donations. LIfeCenter Northwest introduced us to to a young man who wouldn't be here today if it weren't for someone else's heart.

Let's go back 17 years. It's April and Becky Marty is pregnant with her first child. A midwife detects a very fast heartbeat in the womb.

"We went to the hospital but then everything was okay. But something told her we should go get it checked out by a specialist. When we did, he was diagnosed with a fatal congenital heart defect," said Becky.

The options doctors gave the first-time parents were grim: let the baby die naturally after birth, terminate the pregnancy, attempt a series of surgeries, or.... "We opted to get a transplant for him, to save his life," said Becky.

Samuel was born in California where the Marty's moved when Becky was was eight and a half months pregnant to get the best treatment for their baby. 33 days later his time on the heart transplant waiting list was over. 16 years later you would never know by looking at Samuel, how he came into the world.

"I have to take medicine everyday, and I have to do blood draws, and doctors appointments. I have to get special care on small illnesses because of my heart transplant. I don't really have any challenges doing normal stuff," said Samuel.

The heart now beating in Samuel's growing body came from a baby girl, a twin, who died of birth-complications. That family has become close friends with the Marty's.

"It gave them hope, it gave them peace to know that their daughter was living on in Samuel and that she had a purpose in her life, even though it was a very short life," said Becky.

What could have been been a tragedy for two families turned into a lifelong friendship.

"So we've been able to watch her twin sister grow up and they'll be graduating the same year," said Becky.

"I have a lot more to do in life. I'm glad that I'm alive everyday and I'm thankful for this opportunity I've gotten to live," said Samuel.

LifeCenter Northwest says the northwest has one of the highest rates of donation in the world. One person's donation has the potential to save up to 15 lives, like Samuel's.