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      Donna family raises awareness on living donors

      The family hopes to encourage other people to become living donors after the daughter gave her mother another chance at life.

      When Maricela Garza needed a liver transplant she never thought her then-18-year-old daughter Kathia Martinez would be eager to donate.

      Test showed Kathia was a perfect match, but her parents worried about complications.

      "Mom was apprehensive about it but I was all for it, she said. I even said that day, ~OK what do you need to do? Blood work? OK, go ahead get my blood TM and the lady was stunned, the nurse was stunned and she said, I think its better you guys go home and talk about it."

      So they did, and soon decided to go ahead with transplant.

      On December 20, 2001, Kathia donated 60 percent of her liver to her mother, whose own organ was failing and only had months to live.

      "I was so close to death, they were only giving me one year t olive," Maricela said.

      After ten years, and several grandchildren later, Maricela said she has received the best present from her daughter, the gift of life.

      "It TMs the best present for Christmas and New Years, she added. There is nothing that can top that.

      Thanks to her daughter, Maricela is healthy and helps her husband run their restaurant.

      She hopes their story will encourage other people to become living donors.

      For more information on how to become a donor, contact the South Texas Transplant Center in McAllen at (956) 971-5726.