Medical City Fort Worth April 05, 2017

When 18-year-old college freshman Mayriah Brown died unexpectedly during the Christmas holidays, her family reached out through their grief to donate one of her kidneys to Jason Martinez. The Brown family knew that the 38-year-old father of four was on the transplant waiting list for a kidney.

“I was lying in bed Christmas night and I got a phone call from our friend, Robbie Brown,” Martinez recalls. “She said, ‘Our daughter is passing, but we want to bring happiness to your family.’ I didn’t have any words. This family thought of me at the worst time in their life, when they were losing their child.”

The kidney was a good match, enabling the transplant at Medical City Fort Worth on Dec. 28, 2016. The transplant team used a pioneering robotic surgery procedure, performed by only a limited number of surgeons and facilities worldwide, to perform the kidney transplant.

Mayriah’s mother, Robbie Brown, is scheduled to speak at a Donate Life Month event at Medical City Fort Worth at 10 a.m. on April 6. The event, co-sponsored by the hospital and LifeGift, aims to encourage people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. A Color Guard detail from NAS Fort Worth JRB is scheduled to lead the raising of the American flag to begin the ceremony. A special flag commemorating organ donation month will also be flown.

Also scheduled to speak at the event will be Marlicia Owens, a 43-year-old Fort Worth patient who received a life-saving kidney transplant last year from a deceased organ donor. Owens says she is forever thankful for the gift that allowed her to forego dialysis and enjoy a healthier and more active life. More than 33,500 organs were transplanted in the United States in 2016, enabling patients like Owens and Martinez to begin new lives, thanks to both deceased and living donors.

Despite advances in medicine and technology, and increased awareness of organ donation and transplantation, a gap still exists between supply and demand. On average, 22 people die each day while waiting for a transplant, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

Texans can register online to be organ donors at www.donatelifetexas.org.