February 14th isn't just Valentines Day, it's also National Donor Day
CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WJAC) —
It's that time of the year again, hearts are taking over stores and people are getting ready to celebrate Valentine's Day with the one they love.
But Feb. 14 isn't just a romantic holiday, it's also National Donor Day.
"It’s a chance to honor the heroes that made the decision to be organ donors. But it’s also a chance to celebrate recipients and donor families. People that are on the waiting list waiting for that second chance as well," said Craig Smith, an organ transplant recipient.
Smith, a Johnstown native, is no stranger to that second chance. At 26 years old, he was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy.
"Basically I got a virus that attacked my cardiac system and destroyed my heart, and sent me into heart failure," Smith said.
In 2015, just a little over a year after his diagnosis, Smith was in the hospital when he received that life-changing news.
"My doctor came in and he sat down on the corner of my bed, and he just said those words we’ve been waiting for, he said, 'We have your heart for you,'" he said.
Now 31 years old, Smith runs the nonprofit organization Second Chance Fundraising. The organization helps raise awareness about organ donation and provides financial assistance to those who need it for medical expenses.
Smith hopes to spread the organization's message to even more people on National Donor Day. He plans to visit hospitals throughout Pittsburgh, with his friend Derek, who helps run the nonprofit.
"A lot of people don't know the impact that one person can have," Smith said. "One person that's an organ donor can save up to eight peoples lives, and they can also enhance the lives of 75 other people through tissue and cornea donation."
According to Smith, there's almost 175,000 people in the United States waiting for an organ. Smith said that includes an estimated 7,500 people in Pennsylvania.
On Thursday, Smith hopes people will decide to give more to others than just a bouquet of flowers and sign up to be a donor, so in the future they could potentially give the gift of life.