Elizabeth Arteaga of Sacramento says she has a guardian angel – her donor.
Elizabeth is in her mid-thirties, but already she has experienced more challenges than most will face in a lifetime.?In 1995, Elizabeth was diagnosed with renal failure. She went on the national waiting list for a kidney, but waited four long years. Near the end her kidneys had only 3% of their original function, and she was tethered to a dialysis machine three times a week.
Still, she continued working as the office manager for a chiropractor. As she puts it, “I didn’t want to give up on life.”
But, more challenges awaited Elizabeth. In April 1999, complications from a thyroid operation left her heart weakened to the point where she now also needed a heart transplant.
Then, on September 29, 1999, Elizabeth received a second chance at life. A 19-year-old woman, Marsha Stone, had died in a car accident, and became a donor – allowing Elizabeth to have both a heart and kidney transplant.
“Marsha and I had talked about organ donation not long before she died,” says Marsha’s mother CeCe Stone. “So, when this happened, even though we were devastated, I knew that donating her organs was something Marsha would want.”
Now, Elizabeth is back at work fulltime and in her spare time plays with her four dogs – Mabel, Patches, Leo and Lady.
“I feel very blessed,” says Elizabeth. “Marsha is my guardian angel, and because she gave me another chance at life, I’m going to live it to the fullest in her honor.”
Fact: Hispanics account for 13% of the national organ waiting list. Those numbers increase annually. Now more than ever, we must come together to solve the donor shortage. To help ensure the best possible match, it is essential to increase the number of Hispanics deciding to give life.
One donor can save or enhance the lives of more than 50 people.