Rena Cantu

I can’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t want children. In 1999, my partner received news that we would be expecting a child. It was the scariest and most joyous news I had ever heard. Karrena was born in September 2000. We instantly bonded and in between cuddles and kisses, I promised to love her and protect her for the rest of my life, no matter what. That day came too soon. In June 2005, Karrena was hospitalized for possible food poisoning or Hep B. She was picked and poked every hour until finally the doctor notified us that her liver function tests were elevated. Of course, as parents we were confused, scared, angry and in complete disbelief.

She was not leaving the hospital without a liver transplant. Karrena was placed in ICU and was placed on the organ donor list as a Status 1 client. Our daughter had 7 days to live. I couldn’t believe and wouldn’t accept that I would only have my daughter for 4 years after waiting so long to have a child of my own. It’s hard to put into words what goes through the mind of a parent while watching their child’s health slowly deteriorate each passing day.

Through all the uncertainty, only one thing was clear…someone’s loss and selfless act of humanity and kindness would save Karrena’s life. That miracle happened on June 26, 2005 when Karrena received a donor organ and liver transplant. Almost 6 years later, I can’t reflect back on this life changing event without crying tears of joy and gratitude. Each year my family celebrates Karrena’s transplant anniversary and we are able to celebrate her life. I know that all the life saving techniques from doctors and all the prayers and support from family and friends couldn’t have fixed Karrena’s liver.

It was only through organ donation that Karrena received a liver. A family lost someone very special to them and in their grief stricken moments selflessly donated organs of their loved ones. I know that choices that difficult are not made spontaneously. Every day that I am able to watch my child grow and flourish, I am grateful to the family that heard the Donate Life message.

Thank you for giving me my daughter’s elementary, junior high and high school graduation, her first day of college, the opportunity to dance with her at her wedding and share in her joy when she welcomes her first child.

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