By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

With so much love in the air as Valentine’s Day is celebrated Wednesday, Feb. 14, a somewhat lesser known observance also is taking place. As it has each year since its establishment in 1998 by the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Donor Day aimed to raise awareness on the importance of blood, eye, marrow, organ, platelet and tissue donation.

Each day, thousands of patients benefit from the willingness of others to pass on the gift of life. One such example is 9-month-old Matthew Easley of Crockett, son of Stephen and Megan Easley of Crockett. Matthew, who was born with a rare heart disease called Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome with Pulmonary Atresia and Ticuspid Stenosis, received a heart transplant in October.

Matthew’s mother, Meagan Easley, expressed a great deal of appreciation to the family of the child whose heart now beats in her son’s body.

“I’m sure in those moments of grieving to say good-bye, it’s tough to say, ‘Yeah, we’ll have my child be a donor,’” Easley acknowledged. “And that’s why we’re extremely grateful.

“I hope to one day meet them so they can hear Matthew’s heart and know it’s their child’s heart beating inside,” she said.

Had it not been for the heart transplant, Easley said, her son would likely either still be hospitalized or no longer living.

Easley also pointed out that many people of all ages are still in need of transplants made possible by organ donations.

“Becoming a donor would help thousands of families worldwide,” she said. “There are several I’ve seen on these Facebook groups that are waiting, from infants to adults.”

Someone who becomes a registered donor agrees to posthumously donate his or her eyes, organs and tissues to patients awaiting transplants. Once a person has registered, his or her decision may not be overturned by loved ones after their passing. Completing the registration process also saves loved ones from having to mull over the decision in the event of a sudden, tragic death.

The Donate Life Texas Donor Registry offers a number of different ways to join, including an electronic form which can be completed in less than 60 seconds. A paper application is available for download and may be returned via fax or mail to the organization.

Individuals interested in becoming a donor may also do so while applying for or renewing a driver’s license at the Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License Office nearest to them. Those who say yes to joining the registry will be automatically added or have their registration updated. A Hero’s Heart symbol will appear on his or her driver’s license as a symbol of their lifesaving commitment.

The registry can also be joined during the process of registering a vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Individuals who are applying for or renewing a vehicle registration will have the opportunity to access information regarding organ donation, as well as a link to the online registration form.

For users of iOS 10 or later, the opportunity to register from the MedID tab in the iPhone Health App is also available.

For more information or to become a donor, visit www.donatelifetexas.org.

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at snaron@messenger-news.com.