Closings & Delays across the Tennessee Valley

‘Donate Life’ by signing up to be an organ donor

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – April is National “Donate Life” month to promote organ donation.

There’s a baby girl born in Athens who makes a perfect example of how organ donation can provide a silver lining to a tragedy.

Raegan Morrell is six months old. Born at Athens-Limestone Hospital, she seemed to be a perfectly healthy baby girl, until doctors noticed something wasn’t right with her heart.

“She had some heart defects, so her heart did not form while she was in the womb,” said Sarah Solomon, Raegan’s aunt.

Sarah said doctors performed successful open heart surgery on Raegan but afterwards her heart began failing. They told Raegan’s family she needed a new heart.

Three months after being put on a transplant list, Raegan’s family learned there was a donor. It was bittersweet but an undeniable reason why organ donation is so important.

“Through a tragedy of somebody losing their life, you can give hope and life to somebody else through organ donation,” Sarah Morrell said. “It is a miracle.”

“It’s a huge legacy that you can leave behind for someone else,” said Brie Hollander.

She’s a spokeswoman for the Alabama Organ Center. Hollander said about 30% of Alabamians are organ donors.

“We need it to be 100 percent,” said Hollander. “There’s almost 4,000 people just in the state of Alabama waiting on a life-saving transplant and that’s made up of men, women and children.”

She said thousands of people die each year waiting.

“Because there just aren’t enough organs available,” Hollander insisted.

Sarah Solomon said her family May never know who’s painful loss gave Raegan the gift of life.

“I love her like she was my own,” Sarah said through tears, admitting she’s not married and doesn’t have children yet.

So far, Raegan’s new heart is doing great and she may be released from the hospital to her family as soon as next month.

Becoming an organ donor is easy. You can sign up when you get a driver’s license or you can register online.