FONTANA (CBSLA) — Donating an organ to save the life of someone else is a sacrifice few people are willing to make once, let alone twice. But that's exactly what Elaine Jones of Fontana did.
The first time she volunteered to go under the knife was for her uncle Steven.
Just eight years apart, the two had always been close. But at age 33, Steven went into kidney failure.
"I told the doctor that I'll be available if I'm a match," Jones said.
She was a match and donated one of her kidneys.
"He felt better immediately," she said.
After saving her uncle's life through organ donation, Jones said she wanted to continue giving the gift of life to others — including those she did not know.
"I saw what a big impact it made, and I wanted to donate part of my liver," she said.
In 2009, Susan Bou's infant daughter, Jaylee, was in liver failure at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Jones ended up being a perfect match.
"She means the world to us," Bou said. "Talking about it now, I still get shaky."
Once a portion of Jones' healthy liver replaced Jaylee's diseased liver, the little girl started to thrive.
"People ask, 'Well, did it hurt, did it hurt,'" Jones said. "I'm like, 'Yes, I'm not gonna lie, it hurt.'"
But Jones said the pain of surgery does not compare to the pain of losing a loved one.
"And so I was able to help people not lose that loved one," she said.
As for Jaylee, she's now a healthy 11-year-old and still close to Jones and her family.
"She's a part of me," Bou said. "My daughter calls her sister. It's just this bond, you know, that goes beyond the donation."
Several months after Jaylee's transplant, Bou gave birth again — to a little girl she named Elaine.
"It was just meant to be for us to be part of each other's lives," Jones said.
Having saved two lives already, Jones said she'd donate again if she could, though she hopes her story will encourage others to do the same.
"I would tell everybody just to consider, look into it," she said. "It's just so fulfilling. It's absolutely wonderful."
Organ donation awareness will get a much-needed boost, taking center stage in CBS's new comedy "B Positive." The show's lead characters are a therapist who needs a kidney and an old high school friend who decides to give him one of hers.
"B Positive" airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.
For more information, visit OneLegacy.org.
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