VMorales2Victor Morales, the public information officer for Troop A of the New York State Police, shares the story of his kidney transplant to encourage others to give.

Morales was born with only one kidney, which was damaged during a cycling injury when he was a teen. In January 2001, he was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and learned he would need a transplant. He joined the waiting list for a short time, but his cousin came forward as a living donor. Morales received a kidney from her on Oct. 4, 2001.

“It’s made me a new man,” Morales said of his transplant. “It gave me a new lease on life and I’ve tried to do what I can to make it worthwhile.” That new lease on life has enabled him to continue his service with the State Police, spend time with his wife and three daughters, and perform as an actor in Western New York theaters.

Morales calls his cousin his “earth angel,” and urges others to consider living donation or joining the donor registry. “I’ve talked to people about giving, signing the registry cards. I let them know how important it is, how many people have been saved, not only with kidneys, but with hearts and eyes and liver and tissue.”

Police, firefighters and first responders from agencies across Western New York are working to give the Gift of Life by joining Unyts’ Holiday Heroes campaign. The agencies are hosting blood drives in December and January. The events include Donate Life Registry drives as well, where they’ll be encouraging the public to sign up to become organ, eye and tissue donors. Click here to find out more and make an appointment to give blood.