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A success story of organ donation, receiving a kidney and heart transplant

Posted at 4:39 PM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 20:24:25-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Organ donations are a big need in the state and across the country.

It is national donate life month, and according to Donor Life America, more than half of Arizonans have pledged to become an organ donor. One of them, saved the life of Jennifer Valente Caywood, who had a heart and kidney transplant 10 months ago.

"Whoever donated my organs is my hero," said Caywood.

Caywood was a patient at Tuscon Medical Center, who was fortunate to get the call that she would receive not one organ but two. From the time she was officially put on the waiting list, it took all of one week to get her the organs that would save her life.

"So, so far my body's accepted the organs. And the organs seem to be happy where they're at," said Caywood.

Growing up having bilateral kidney cancer, the treatment she received to kill it, severely damaged her heart. After a stroke, when she was enrolled at University of Arizona, and a heart attack after graduate school, transplants were her only option.

Now, Caywood has never felt more healthy or energetic. She accomplished her goal of running, for the first time in her life, in November 2018.

"I always wanted to run. I always wanted to be healthy and to feel good and energetic. To be able to do that now, every time I run, I cry with joy. Its so much fun," said Caywood.

"The fact that 50 percent of Arizonans have signed up to save and heal lives, reflects the generosity and the incredible community spirit of Arizonans," said Sara Pace Jones, with Donor Network of Arizona.

A single organ donor can save up to eight lives. National donate life month is an ongoing effort to build awareness about the ability of organ donors to heal and save lives. There are more than 2,200 people in Arizona waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.

However, last year, 779 lives were saved in Arizona thanks to the generosity of 283 organ donors. Sight was restored for more than 900 people and 1,417 tissue donors offered the gift of healing.