DALLAS — More than 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease. It's the ninth leading cause of death, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
That's why living organ donors are so important.
On Sunday, 46 North Texans who gave the gift of life recieved a gift in return.
Everyone likes to get a little recognition for their good deeds, and along the hallway on a wall at Baylor University Medical Center, people who have done one selfless deed are getting the credit they may not ask for... but richly deserve.
"When people see that their gift is being recognized... when they see their gift is being recognized by society... by us all... I think it makes a statement," said Dr. Goran Klintmalm, chief of the Baylor Regional Transplant Institute.
Karen Forrest donated a kidney to her son last year. Her name is on the Living Donor Wall along with 45 other people who donated a kidney — or, in some cases, part of their liver — to someone who needed it to live.
The wall was dedicated at the hospital on Sunday afternoon.
"Everybody is a gift, and everybody is glad to give it, and they like to tell their stories... just like we do," Forrest said. "It's just really heartfelt."
According to the National Kidney Foundation in 2010, the last year it compiled statistics, more than 15,000 Americans received kidney transplants. That same year, more than 80,000 were waiting for a transplant.
Those numbers illustrate how desperately donors are needed, and how significant the choice to become a living donor is since it does involves both surgery and risk for the donor as well as the recipient.
"Any time you have surgery, that is a scary part, but it's just one of those things," Forrest said. "You can do it."
And there is hope that seeing just how many people have done it will encourage others to do it, too.