SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - UC San Diego Medical Center is shinning a light on the need for organ donation and on Wednesday former patients who have received the precious gift of life shared their inspiring stories.
The state of California has the nation's largest and longest wait list for organs with 23,000 potential and hopeful recipients.
More than 2,000 of those potential and hopeful recipients are in San Diego.
For 20-years, Chula Vista resident Inez Lontayo suffered from diabetes and depended on insulin to survive. Lontayo received a double organ transplant which literally gave her her life back.
"I feel blessed every day. I am here to say that my life is better now than it has been in 20-years," she said.
Her donor was 29-year-old Galen Hatcher who was tragically killed in December of 2014, in the Gaslamp. Out of that tragedy five other lives were saved, including Inez's.
"He still lives in me. I treasure the gifts he gave me every single," she said.
Inez's life-affirming story was showcased Wednesday night at UC San Diego Medical Center which is shinning a light on National Donate Life month by lighting its building to send a message about the critical importance of organ donation.
"Up to eight people can be saved by simply signing up to be an organ donor," said Dr. Dianne McKay.
One of those saved is Jon Marsh. In February of last year Marsh received a heart transplant.
Carol Knott is the wife of Jon's donor, Roger Knott. Roger himself had been the recipient of a heart transplant in January of 2015. Shortly after, the unthinkable happened.
"He got his heart after waiting for two years. Thirty days later he had a stroke and passed away. There was no question that I wanted to donate his organs," said Carol.
The process was a rare transplant, using the same donated heart in two different people, which has only happened ten times in the world, according to UC San Diego.
Sadly, 81-San Diegans died last year waiting for an organ transplant.