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National Donor Day Stresses Importance Of Organ Donation

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Across the country, 122,000 patients are waiting for an organ transplant. In Pennsylvania, there are 8,000 and that doesn't include those waiting for tissue, bone marrow or corneas.

But, National Donor Day is encouraging people to sign up to give the ultimate gift.

Jameson is a very active little boy who is alive, thanks to a heart donor.

Jameson and his family participated in National Donor Day at the Carnegie Science Center.

"He plays with his brother, Collin, constantly. He's in preschool, going to attend kindergarten next year and none of this would be possible without the help of CORE and the selfless act of that family that gave my son a second chance at life," Danielle McKain said.

However, Jameson wasn't alone. Faith, a 12-year-old sixth grader, is now strong enough to climb the rock wall at the Carnegie Science Center. Her heart transplant came 11 years ago.

A third recipient is a 53-year-old mother of three.

"Everyone up here is a hero, including our CORE team. What we need are more heroes. Being an organ donor is free, and it's an automatic step to being a hero," Stacey Vernallis said.

The annual Valentine's Day event is put on by CORE - the Center for Organ Recovery and Education.

"You can see these recipients of a heart. They are able to play and live life to the fullest, and it also allows us to say thank you to the donor families who made that gift of life," CORE President and CEO Susan Stuart said.

Jake Pribanic, 18, wants to be a chef when he grows up. Now, heart disease keeps him from doing many active things -- including travelling.

"I'm not allowed to be in an airplane for more than two hours because of my heart function. I'd love to be able to have the stamina to go on long hikes or bike rides," he said.

Jake's on the heart transplant list and CORE is encouraging everyone to do what they can to help.

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