MISSION, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A liver transplant saved La Joya ISD high school student Shantel Garza.
Sixteen years ago, Shantel was diagnosed with liver cirhossis. Shantel’s mother, Alicia took a visit to Corpus Christi to speak with a specialist and he told her the liver was “bad.”
“That’s the time it became worrisome for us,” said Alicia.
Alicia granted doctors permission to perform a Kasai procedure to bypass an intestine to Shantel’s liver to drain the bile ducts in hopes that would prevent necessary transplantation but didn’t work.
Shortly after, Alicia put Shantel on the United States’ liver transplant waiting list where she was on hold for 9 months before receiving a transplant at 10 months old through the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance.
“We just thank God there was a donor that gave her a second chance at life,” said Alicia.
To help raise awareness for organ donation and for those in similar situations to Shantel’s, TOSA is running a campaign called ‘National Minority Donor Awareness Month’ throughout August.
According to TOSA’s Senior Communications Coordinator, Edwina Garza ‘National Minority Donor Awareness Month’ is a campaign focused on educating the need for donors, addressing any donation myths and misconceptions, and normalizing organ donation.
Edwina added that there is a need for organ donors in the multiracial and minority communities, but those communities are the ones who are not donating as much. Donations that come from the same ethnic group as the recipient are more likely to be successful.
“60% of the people waiting today in the United States come from multiracial communities,” said Edwina. And out of that, 10,000 are waiting in Texas.
Edwina said the reason for such a large percentage is that in Hispanic and African American communities there are high instances of high blood pressure and diabetes which in turn requires a kidney transplant which makes up for 80% of the requested donations on the waitlist.
Alicia and Shantel currently volunteer with TOSA in hopes of further educating the importance of organ donation.
“We all need to get together to help others that are in need, waiting for a liver transplant because like today–I wouldn’t have my daughter here with me enjoying what she does now and us having her all this time we have to have been able to have her,” said Alicia.
Fast forward 16 years and Shantel is now entering her 11th-grade year in La Joya ISD where she is taking college courses, involved in her school’s choir, and studying cosmetology.
Shantel told ValleyCentral that beyond cosmetology though, she is hoping to become a transplant doctor so that she give others a second chance at life like she was.
By donating an organ, eight lives can be saved. When donating tissue, up to 75 people will have their lives enhanced.
You can become an organ donor through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles when getting a driver’s license or you can visit TOSA’s website for more information.