Fallen donor, New Mexico woman connected by gift of life

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque woman says an organ donation saved her life and connected her to a family she’s close to – who was on the other side of the process.

“My whole life, I was in and out of hospitals. I saw so many doctors throughout the country, the disease is so rare,” she said.

After nearly 20 years of battling a rare liver disease, a week on the donor waitlist and a nine-hour surgery, Victoria Yocum received a second chance at life.

“I woke up in the ICU, and I honestly can say I’ve never felt better in my life, I feel like I won the lottery, I really do. I feel like I won the lottery. I’m so lucky. I’m so lucky that somebody was so fortunate to donate their body to me,” Victoria Yocum exclaimed.

Not a day goes by that Yocum doesn’t think about the person who made her miracle possible. She thinks about it often as a family she’s close with went through the other side of the process.

Yocum’s sister is dating the brother of Bill Talavera. Talavera was an organ donor who saved three lives after losing his own in a tragic accident last Easter.

“He lives on, and this is something he wanted to do, and it’s ironic how life works because this lovely young lady, her sister is part of our family,” Deborah Talavera, Bill’s mother, said.

“Bill had passed away right before I received my transplant. Seeing his family go through this process and how they’ve handled it has just given me such a deeper appreciation for my transplant,” Yocum said. “I get to see the other side and I hope that it’s helped them as well to see. Someone who almost didn’t make it but they received a transplant because of a loved one donating their organs.”

According to New Mexico Donor Services, there are 600 New Mexicans waiting for transplants. They say increasing that registry can help save lives.

This Saturday, they’ll be helping Bill Talavera’s family honor Talavera’s life with a motorcycle and car show. It’s happening at the St. Therese Parish Hall parking lot this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

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