Give the Gift of Life with Organ Donation

As told by Marina Monsisvais

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 69 percent of kidney recipients are still alive five years after their transplant.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 69 percent of kidney recipients are still alive five years after their transplant.

Currently, 113,389 people are waiting for an organ. Of those, 18 will die each day waiting for an organ. However, Erica A. Rivas can count herself as one of the lucky 79 people who are given the gift of life every day.

Her journey to becoming an advocate for organ donation began in 2006 when she was diagnosed with a chronic form of kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis.

Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis is scar tissue that forms in parts of the kidney called glomeruli. The glomeruli serve as filters, helping rid the body of unnecessary or harmful substances, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine. Although an exact cause of the disease is unknown, many cases often lead to kidney failure.

To prevent her kidneys from failing, Rivas, an evaluation coordinator for the Office of Curriculum, Evaluation and Accreditation at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, was put on dialysis to extend her life by helping her body filter toxins.

But she would need a new kidney to live a normal life.

“When you’re a dialysis patient, it’s very heartbreaking,” Rivas said. “There are so many people out there who have been on dialysis for years. I spent a lot of time looking for a living donor. None of my family or friends was a match.”

Although her diagnosis seemed grim, Rivas was thrilled when she learned a selfless organ donor would give her second chance at life.

“I was on the donor waiting list, but my wait wasn’t long,” Rivas said. “Two people in El Paso are alive because one person made the decision to donate.”

Since her transplant, Rivas has made it her mission to be the voice for kidney and organ donation at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. Because of her experience, Rivas’ family has also registered to become donors.

“I’m thankful that someone was unselfish and decided to be an organ donor,” Rivas said. “I’m here because of him.”

Click here to learn more about organ donation or to register as a donor.

Related Stories

How Does Your Garden Grow?

As spring approaches, some people’s thoughts turn to gardening. Whether it’s a flower garden they desire or a vegetable garden want to have, they begin planning what they’ll plant and what they need to do to ensure a successful garden.

Adopt a Growth Mindset for a Better Life

A “growth mindset” accepts that our intelligence and talents can develop over time, and a person with that mindset understands that intelligence and talents can improve through effort and learning.

Drug Use, Family History Can Lead to Heart Disease in Younger Adults

Abstaining from drug abuse and an early diagnosis of familial hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) can help prevent heart disease.

Recent Stories


TTUHSC Faculty Receive Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards

Recognizing academic excellence, the honors are the most prestigious awards granted to faculty throughout the TTU System. The awards are funded by gifts to the Chancellor’s Council, a giving society that supports the chancellor’s priorities across the TTU System.

Campus Life

Free Clinic Offered for Women’s Health Day

TTUHSC School of Medicine students will host a Women’s Health Day free clinic from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 15 at The Free Clinic


Researchers Study the Impact of Cancer on Hispanic Patients and Their Caregivers

TTUHSC Cytogenetic Technologist Jasbir Bisht and a team from P. Hemachandra Reddy’s internal medicine laboratory analyzed the impact of cancer in Hispanics in comparison to other ethnic groups.