Father celebrates lifesaving organ donation

Father celebrates lifesaving organ donation

A local father is grateful to be around this Father's Day after he received a lifesaving organ donation.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This Father’s Day is extra special for one local father as he didn’t think he would make it this far about a year ago.

Frank Wilson began a long health battle in April 2022. Doctors admitted Wilson to the emergency room and told him his liver and kidneys were shutting down.

“I was in the ICU for a total of nine days being treated. During that time, I was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease,” Wilson said.

At that point, only a liver transplant could cure end-stage liver disease. The problem is the process of getting one isn’t always easy or guaranteed.

“You never know how long it’s going to take. It could be a week, you could be waiting months or a year or even longer. Once you’re listed, it’s not guaranteed that you will get a transplant. It’s just another step in anxiety,” Wilson said.

There are hundreds of people still on that list here in New Mexico.

“Currently, there are about 640 people here in New Mexico waiting for a lifesaving transplant. So that’s somebody’s dad, uncle brother, father, daughter. It’s a huge ripple effect in a community of someone whos months, weeks of losing their lives,” said Celina Espinoza, the director of external affairs at New Mexico Donor Services.

At least 53% of New Mexicans registered as an organ donor. NM Donor Services officials want to educate more people on organ donation and hopefully get more people to register as a donor.

“One person can save up to eight lives and, through tissue donation, heal up to 75 others so it’s amazing the impact you can have,” Espinoza said.

Because of one of those registered donors, Wilson flew to Denver last year for a liver transplant. Now, almost eight months later, he’s still recovering but enjoying life with his wife and three kids.

“Happy to see my kids grow, be with them, take them on vacation. Even taking them to school is a great thing,” Wilson said.

As for the person who saved his life, Wilson doesn’t know who they are. He plans to find out who they are and honor them in any way.

“To the family, I would just express my sincere gratitude and condolences for their loss. And I’d let them know that their loved one lives on through me,” Wilson said.

Wilson has more than one thing to celebrate this Father’s Day. His birthday is also coming up. He says he wants to continue to share his story and honor his donor hero by raising awareness about organ donation.

Nationally, more than 100,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant. For more info, click here.