Learn about giving the gift of life on National Donor Day - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Learn about giving the gift of life on National Donor Day

Posted: Updated:

TRI-CITIES, WA - Besides today being Valentine's Day, did you know today is National Donor Day as well?

In order to bring awareness to the importance of organ donors, reporter Crystal Garcia looked into one man's story of how it has affected his life.

Oscar Sainz's life was saved, thanks to an organ donor.

"My journey started back in 2000," said Sainz, an organ recipient and donor advocate. "I had become ill... I had become diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and by that time my health was pretty bad."

For the next eight years, Sainz was on medications until his heart literally couldn't take any more. His doctors told him he needed a new heart, so he joined hundreds of thousands of people on the wait list in need of a life-saving transplant.

"From the beginning, I told myself, every day that goes by is a day closer... whether that was a transplant or a day closer to going to heaven," said Sainz.

But in 2009, Sainz got the news that he was getting a new heart. After the surgery, he felt his new heart break for the first time.

"It was that moment that I realized how important organ donation is," Sainz said. "I closed my eyes, I said a prayer to the donor family. Thank God these organs didn't go to waste."

Sainz says he is grateful every single day.

"Just to be given the opportunities again, to watch my children grow, to watch my grandchildren grow is huge."

And today, he works with Donate Life and other organizations to raise awareness of just how important it is to become a registered donor.

"A heart transplant or any transplant isn't just about a recipient and donor, it's like a ripple effect," Sainz said. "It affects their family, your family, and eventually the community. The gift of life is probably the greatest gift you can give."

It is an amazing and beautiful gift, as one organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people.

Signing up to become an organ donor is as simple as checking a box when getting your driver's license, signing up online, or even just making a call. You can go to donatelife.net to learn more.

HD DOPPLER 6i
/