HACKENSACK - A New Jersey organ recipient is sharing his story as part of National Donate Life Month.
National Donate Life Month is a chance for organ donors and recipients to be recognized for their heroism. It also highlights the need for living organ donors.
Michael Fernandez, 22, found out last year that he was in need of a new kidney. He says that he was scared at the time and felt that his chances at life were running out.
Waiting for a donated kidney can take an average of four years, which means dialysis every other day during that period. Dr. James Lim, of Hackensack Medical Center, always looks for a faster solution, usually in the form of someone the donor knows who may be a match.
Fernandez's father was ineligible for the transplant, but his mother, Karina, was deemed a perfect match by doctors following a series of tests. She underwent surgery more than a year ago to transplant one of her kidneys into her son.
Fernandez says that while last year had its ups and downs, he and his mother have been doing well since the surgery.
Approximately 21 people die every day while waiting for a lifesaving transplant. There are more than 120,000 people currently on the national transplant waiting list.