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Organ Donation Recipient, Advocate Marvel At The Example Set By Fallen NYPD Det. Wilbert Mora

MILLER PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The number of people signing up to be organ donors appears to have risen over the last few weeks, thanks to attention surrounding fallen NYPD Det. Wilbert Mora.

His recovered organs became gifts of life to five different people.

CBS2's Dave Carlin has more on a Long Island man who is thriving a year after receiving a heart. And while it is not from Det. Mora, he is saying thank you on behalf of recipients everywhere.

"The only way I was ever going to live was if someone else were to donate their heart for me," Christopher Frey said.

On Jan. 26, Frey's transplanted heart turned 1 years old.

"I'm so much stronger, so much more myself," Frey said.

The married dad of two sons had an 18-hour surgery, followed by long months of recovery.

It was an emotional journey made even more so when he heard about the sacrifices of Mora, a 27-year-old member of the NYPD who was killed in a shootout in Harlem.

His heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas went to five other patients in need of life-saving organ transplants.

Frey can relate.

"He put his life on the line every single day being a police officer," Frey said, "and the fact that he's protecting lives on a day-to-day basis and not only that, in this case, he actually saved so many people from what he did being an organ donor."

Web Extra: President & CEO Of LiveOn NY Says Det. Wilbert Mora's Final Gift Of Organ Donation Helped Increase Public Awareness

The donation group LiveOn NY says because Mora gave the gifts of life received international attention, staffers have been fielding more calls and signing up new organ donors, Carlin reported.

"We already see a positive impact from that," said Leonard Achan, president and CEO of LiveOn NY.

Achan said there has been a shift in the way people think about organ and tissue donation.

"Detective Mora's generosity and his family's generosity will always be remembered as a pivotal moment," Achan said. "It started to begin a conversation to normalize organ donation and it's an opportunity we have not had."

This builds on a positive trend. Last year, there were 1,000 organ transplants in a New York state, which set an all-time record.

It helps that there are increasingly better capabilities for saving organs, but a dire need remains.

"Success would be a zero waiting list, so there are 9,000 New Yorkers who remain on that list," Achan said.

Frey said he is lucky and living proof organ donation works.

"I can speak firsthand from being someone who accepted a donor's heart," Frey said. "Donating is a huge, huge, huge thing that we all can do."

He said he wants the stories of donors and recipients told again and again to help people grasp what is beautiful about giving the gift of life.

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