NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Sunday, February 14 is Valentine’s Day and it is also National Donor Day which is an observance dedicated to spreading awareness and education about being an organ, eye, and tissue donor. Heart recipient Amanda Gabaldon discusses National Donor Day, the #BeTheGift campaign, and why it is so important.

New Mexico Donor Services is the state’s Organ Procurement Organization that celebrates National Donor Day as a time to highlight all types of donation. Additionally, it is a day to recognize those who have given the gift of donation, have received a donation, are currently waiting, or didn’t receive an organ in time.

This National Donor Day, New Mexico Donor Services’ #BeTheGift campaign encourages members of the community to register online as organ and tissue donors at bethegifttoday.com and share a selfie on social media wearing the virtual Big Red Bow.

In 2014, Amanda developed a rare heart disease during her pregnancy. She gave birth to a healthy baby but needed a transplant. Thanks to a generous donor, she received a new heart eight months later and is now healthy and is enjoying life with her family.

New Mexico Donor Services reports about 108,000 people are currently on the national organ transplant waiting list and over 700 of them are on the New Mexico waiting list. An average of 22 people in the U.S. die each day because of the shortage of lifesaving organs.

In 2020, New Mexico Donor Services says they experienced two all-time record-breaking milestones as there were 68 organ donor heroes and 188 organs transplanted during the year. This was 27 more organs transplanted than in 2019.

Last year, 530 New Mexicans also became tissue donor heroes. A team of recovery professionals at New Mexico Donor Services works with two transplant centers in the state and across the western United States to help donor heroes #BeTheGift, offering others a second chance at life.

To register as an organ or tissue donor, visit bethegifttoday.com. For more information on organ donation and how donations save lives, visit donatelifenm.org and the Donate Life New Mexico Facebook page.