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Organ donation gives teen second chance at life

Cecilia Vargas gets liver needed since birth

SAN ANTONIO – The next time you bite into a big pancake breakfast or throw some candy in your mouth, you may want to think about being an organ donor.

That's because during this National Organ Donor Month there are people who could use your thoughts.

Imagine it: You're 16 and just had your first taste of the sweetness of apple juice. That was Cecilia Vargas minutes after getting her liver transplant last month, solving a lifelong metabolic disorder that forced her to only eat cornstarch liquids.

"Airheads -- the candies -- I really love Airheads," Vargas said. "And Gatorade. I drink a lot of Gatorade."

"Her liver enzymes and liver function is entirely normal," University Hospital Transplant Center Dr. Francisco Cigarroa said. "She is on a regular diet.  Her lipid levels have normalized. She no longer needs to drink cornstarch." Any children in need of a liver transplant in South Texas will likely end up at University Hospital because it's the only one equipped to do it. 

"There are living donors who are related, and there are also living donors who are unrelated, who are angels, because this is truly an altruistic gift," Cigarroa said. 

Vargas' future looks bright. She's a straight-A student. Her hope is to deliver her message to that special someone, someone she never met who donated their liver and saved her life.

"I'd like to say thank you for giving me this opportunity of having a long lifespan and have another chance at life, basically," Vargas said. 

She had been waiting since birth for her miracle, and there are approximately 12,000 more in this country waiting every year.

Click here for more information on how you can help.