NEW HANOVER COUNTY-- Seventeen-year-old Zachary Bryan and his mom Carol Garrason are thankful. Zachary is alive today thanks to a liver transplant.
"I've been given life," Zachary Bryan said. "I was given a liver when I was 10 months old. I can't think how I have not benefited from it."
Carol said, "Once you've been affected by organ donation, either as a donor or a recipient or a family member, it changes your life."
Zach is one of the lucky ones to receive an organ donation. Many are stuck on a waiting list and won't receive one in time. Currently there are 99,000 people nationwide on the waiting list. Three-thousand of them are right here in North Carolina.
The lack of registered donors and the interest in cross-country travel led the Garrason family to travel through 23 states encouraging people to be registered donors.
Zach received his liver from Matthew, a nine-year-old boy in Nebraska, who died in a car accident. One of the stops on the Garrason journey was to Nebraska to meet Matthew's family, the Oligmuellers.
"Seeing Zach not only gave them closure," Carol said, "but a since of hope that Matthew was able to continue on in a way for them."
The easiest way to become an organ donor is when you register to get your driver license. Governor Easley signed into law last October that if your driver license shows an organ donation symbol than your organs can legally be donated. Still experts say that you should discuss the option with your family first.
"It's extremely important to discuss this with your family members," Carol said, "because you don't realize in a time of need how many people you can actually affect."
If you would like to register to be an organ doner log on to www.donatelifenc.org.