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Doctors, Transplant Patients Working To Raise Organ Donation Awareness

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Every day, more than 21 people die while waiting for a new organ.

The statistics in the United States are staggering and that's why so many people here in Pittsburgh are working to raise organ donation awareness.

Moses Hart knows first-hand the importance of organ donation.

In February, after years of waiting, the 53-year-old received a new heart.

The transplant went well and now Hart is working to raise awareness about organ donation.

Today, he raised the flag at Allegheny General Hospital during a ceremony honoring those who have given the gift of life.

Dr. Raymond Benza, medical director of the Heart Transplant and Artificial Heart Program at Allegheny General Hospital, said there is nothing like seeing a transplant patient thriving.

"They reengage with their families, they're able to see their children grow up. It's very rewarding," Dr. Benza said.

Eric Daughenbaugh, 45, has been on the transplant list for more than two years. He was born with a heart condition and in January, it got worse.

He was fitted with one of the newest and most innovative heart pumps available - the Heartmate 3.

"You know, I've always known from a young age that I would need a transplant, but I never envisioned anything like I'm going through now that would help bridge me to that transplant," Daughenbaugh said.

"The whole purpose of these pumps is to not only restore quality of life to someone who is suffering from ravages of heart failure, but also to get their body healthy, so that when they get the transplant, they have a much better outcome with it," Dr. Benza said.

While the technology is a game-changer in the medical field and for patients here in Pittsburgh, organ donation is still key.

A single donor can save up to eight lives.

"I'm just staying patient and staying positive, waiting for that day that I get the heart transplant," Daughenbaugh said.

While Daughenbaugh hangs on to hope, he said he will continue to talk about donation. Local medical leaders will do the same.

Allegheny Health Network will hold flag-raising ceremonies throughout April in recognition of National Donate Life Month.

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