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'My son believed in giving second chances': Father of organ donor urges teens to register
El Paso Times - 2/16/2020
Feb. 15--When Rene Moreno Jr. applied for a driver's permit at age 16, he was adamant about one thing: He was going to join the state organ donor registry.
His dad wasn't so sure. Being an organ donor was something Rene Moreno Sr. had never considered, and he had reservations about it.
But Rene Jr. insisted and his father supported his son's decision.
"My son believed in giving second chances, so in becoming an organ donor, he knew if anything were to happen, he would be able to give somebody a second chance at life," the father said.
On Friday, he stood before a group of Montwood High School students similar in age to his son to encourage them to consider joining the registry.
Friday was National Donor Day. It also was just over five months since his son died unexpectedly of a brain tumor at age 18. He had just started his senior year at Bel Air High School.
His son's vital organs saved six lives in Texas, Moreno said. A lung went to a 70-year-old recipient and his heart to a 30-year-old. His tissues and bones have been donated to 50 people.
"He was a hero," Moreno said. "He was my hero."
He added, "I just hope that the people he gave this second chance to don't squander the gift of life that he gave them."
20 die each day waiting for organ transplant
More than 112,000 people across the United States are waiting for an organ transplant, said Marissa Walker, manager of marketing and communications at Southwest Transplant Alliance. More than 10,000 people on the transplant list live in Texas.
Because of the shortage of donated organs, an average of 20 people on the list die each day, Walker said.
Southwest Transplant Alliance routinely gives presentations at El Paso high schools to educate students about organ donation and address common misconceptions.
"Communities like ours (in El Paso) are the ones that are affected because Latinos have high blood pressure and diabetes," which can lead to organ damage or failure, community relations specialist Karla Martinez said. "We're the ones that need organ transplants."
She said 42% of people on Texas' transplant waiting list identify as Latino.
There is no minimum age requirement for donors, but anyone under age 18 must have a parent's consent when it comes time to donate, Martinez said.
Jinelis De Jesus, 17, decided to become an organ donor after hearing a donor's family speak about it her freshman year. Now a junior, De Jesus helped organize this year's presentation, one of many activities the school has held to raise awareness of organ donation.
"It always hits my heart," De Jesus said of hearing a donor's parent or sibling talk about how "you can give life after you pass."
"I've got to do this. I have to save someone," she said.
Those interested in registering can do so online at donatelifetexas.org/register/
Molly Smith may be reached at 915-546-6413; email@example.com; @smithmollyk on Twitter.
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