SAN ANTONIO - A San Antonio woman is on her third chance at life thanks to organ donors. Through them, she has more to celebrate than her own life.
Rhonda Jung was 24 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare type of liver cancer. After just three months on a waiting list, she got a donor to get a liver transplant.
"I had stomach pains for quite some time. Doctors said it was possibly since birth. So, it was just a progression and, fortunately for me, it was a slow-growing type of cancer," Jung said.
Jung said that getting a liver transplant changed her outlook on life. She said that after she was released from the clinic, she went snow skiing.
"That was my goal in life, to just live life to the fullest, to do everything and anything that a normal person would do because that's the whole purpose of giving the gift of life," Jung said.
Jung remains forever grateful for a second chance at life because she was able to create life and give birth to her daughter.
"That donor who made that conscious choice 30 years ago, it gave me life. Without her, that donor, I wouldn't be alive," said Katelyn Buchanan, Jung's daughter.
"That was just the biggest blessing. I was able to bring another generation into the world," Jung said.
When Jung had to fight for her life yet again, her daughter was her biggest support system. After 30 years and two months getting her first liver transplant, she had chronic liver rejection, which progressed to a tumor. In January, she received a second liver transplant at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
"My family, we've always raised Katelyn to always expect something along the way, whether mom was going to the hospital or, you know, just different bumps in the road that comes with the territory. So, when it came down to this transplant, I mean, she just jumped on," Jung explained. "She just became a little general and in charge of everything and everybody. She was amazing. I'm so proud of her."
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services more than 120,000 people are on the waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant, nationwide. Every 10 minutes, another person is added to the waiting list. Jung encourages more people to register as organ donors so they too can experience the precious gift of life.
"I'm working on my next 30 years, that's all I'm saying. I'm going to live my life and be grateful every day," Jung noted.
"She's everything to me. I would not be the woman I am today without her," Buchanan said.
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