TOMKINS COVE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Six months after she received a life-saving heart transplant, a Rockland County teenager and her family are full of thanks this Thanksgiving.
Now, they hope others will become organ donors.
No matter what 13-year-old Bella Munoz does, she always tries to do it with a smile and a laugh.
"When you think positive, it makes a difference," she told CBS2.
This year, Munoz is thankful for that positive mindset, her healthy heart and a mystery donor family.
"Without them, I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't have anything to be thankful for," she said.
Her heart condition started when she was just nine years old.
"They think it was a virus that attacked her heart and it enlarged her left ventricle," said her mother, Krissy.
From then on, her mom said her ailment kept deteriorating. In January, Munoz was rushed to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she was put on life support and the organ donor list.
"It's tough. You don't ever want to see your kids go through this. You'd rather put yourself in that position," her father, Marcos, said.
"She had tubes and IVs coming out of everywhere to keep her going," her mom added.
Her mom learned how to operate the devices, so Munoz could go home while she waited for a heart donor. During that time, the community rallied together to raise more than $130,000 to cover her medical expenses.
Four months later in May, she got the call there was a match.
"A beautiful, working, strong heart," her mom said.
According to Live on New York, about 10,000 New Yorkers are waiting for a lifesaving transplant, but only 32 percent of residents are registered donors.
"Becoming an organ donor gives a person a second chance at life, giving them more time with their family," spokesperson Ali McSherry said.
It have this teenager more time to laugh, and her family is hoping to one day find and thank her donor's loved ones.
"Probably in one of their most difficult moments of their lives they made the decision to give life," said Krissy Munoz.
A life full of thanks.
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