Laura Barajas was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 10. She controlled it for 20 years before she went into renal failure and had to begin dialysis. “I thought that was the end for me since at that time the waiting list for a kidney transplant was about five years,” she said.
Laura’s brother, Raul, a Marine, told her, “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back!” On September 3, 2009, Raul gave Laura a second chance at life as a living donor. “He gave me the most priceless gift in the world,” she said. “He donated his kidney to me and saved my life.”
In a tragic turn of events, three months after Raul gave Laura new life, he lost his own: He was shot and killed. But he lives on in Laura. “He left me a piece of himself that lets me wake up every morning,” she explained. “His gift is what gives me the strength and courage to speak about organ and tissue donation as an Advocates for Hope volunteer for Gift of Hope.”
Diabetes was still a threat to Laura and her new kidney, and after a year she was put on the waiting list for a pancreas transplant. “I kept my faith and prayed,” she said. “In February 2011, I received my pancreas from a young boy, who now lives on in me, too.”
Today, Laura is doing well and has dedicated herself to educating Hispanic communities on the importance of organ and tissue donation. “I want everyone to know they can give others a new chance at life,” she said. “By registering as an organ and tissue donor, one person can save up to 25 lives.”