7-year-old’s donated liver brings new life to Austin woman

State & Regional

SAN ANTONIO (Nexstar) — When elementary-schooler Jeremiah Martinez learned about organ donation, he told his mom, Desiree, he wanted to be an organ donor if something happened to him. A year later, the seven year old died in a rope swing accident in Cotulla, about 90 miles from San Antonio. He became entangled in the rope while playing outside his home.

The Texas Organ Sharing Alliance reports nearly 10,000 Texans are waiting for an organ donation. Destiny Lehew-Collins knows how lucky she is. She received Jeremiah’s liver, saving her life. 

“I was very, very thin,” she said. “It took a long time, maybe a year to get back up to 100 pounds.”

Lehew-Collins, now 52, met Jeremiah’s family on Friday for the first time, more than three years later.

“I’m so glad that he’s here on earth — that somewhere he’s here,” his grandmother Elisa Benavidez said.

Both families viewed an ultrasound to look at how the liver is working.

“Now I’m back to working out all the time, and working full time and I have my life back,” said Lehew-Collins, who lives in Austin.

Lehew-Collins says since this experience, she’s been more involved with raising awareness about organ donation.

“Get with your family,” she said. “Let them know your wishes to be an organ donor. You can save as many as eight lives.”

For Desiree, Friday’s meeting was bittersweet, weighing the sadness of losing her son with meeting the woman her son saved.

“My baby’s just…a sweet angel,” she said. “Lately I’ve been getting all kinds of signs from him.”

“I guess he’s telling me he’s OK,” Desiree said about the gift of life her son gave to Lehew-Collins.

The Texas Organ Sharing Alliance says people can sign up to become an organ donor at DonateLifeTexas.org.

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