Aguado shares her father’s story for National Organ Donation Awareness Month


photo courtesy of Tomas Aguado

Tomas Aguado with his two children, Madeleine and Braxton Aguado, during the time period in which he was awaiting his transplant.

April is National Organ Donation Awareness Month, and although the month has ended, it is still important to remember how the need for organ transplants affects people all over the U.S., including in the Oakville community.

Madeleine Aguado, a sophomore at OHS, and her father, Tomas Aguado, have shared their experience with the organ transplant process.

“I was in kindergarten when my dad got his heart transplant,” Madeleine explained. She said that she didn’t understand the situation as a child, but she knew he was sick. 

“As a 5 year old it was upsetting that he was gone so much when I didn’t fully understand why,” she said.

Mr. Aguado waited five years before he could have his heart transplant surgery due to the shortage of available organs for transplant and the fact that he was not considered high priority until later on.

“For the first three years of waiting I felt fine,” Mr. Aguado said. “In the fourth year, I started to feel run down, and the fifth year I could not get out of bed most of the time.”

Unfortunately, this experience is not uncommon for many patients on the organ transplant waiting list.

On Thanksgiving Day in 2009, Mr. Aguado was finally able to receive his heart transplant. Mid-America Transplant facilitated the process of recovering his new heart and getting it to the hospital for transplant. The transplant surgery took about 18 hours and Mr. Aguado was in the hospital for five weeks.

About one year post-transplant, Mr. Aguado and his family could finally return to normal after his symptoms began to cease. He and his family are very grateful for his donor’s family, and have received two letters from them over the past 11 years.

Although organ transplants may not seem like a common medical issue compared to others, it is still prominent in the Oakville community and in the U.S, and Mr. Aguado is a firsthand example. 

Another name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes, and over 107,000 people are currently on the waiting list. Not only does this show the importance of organ donation, but also the importance of registered organ donors.

Anyone can be an organ donor, regardless of health, age, race, etc. There are many ways to become a registered organ donor. When you get your driver’s license, you can mark yes or no to becoming a registered donor. You can also register to become an organ donor through websites such as,, and is the official website for Gift of Life, an organization that provides programs that financially and emotionally assist those on their transplant journey, such as Mr. Aguado, and educate and spread awareness for organ transplants and donations.

The Gift of Life organization also works hard to raise awareness of the critical shortage of organs available for transplant. One of its missions is to decrease the waiting time for transplants by increasing the number of organ donors in the United States.

Becoming a registered organ donor can save up to eight lives and enhance over 75 more through tissue donation. That is why Gift of Life spreads the message: to save and enhance lives across the U.S., including in Oakville.

“Although I have not met my donor, I am very grateful for what they have done,” said Mr. Aguado. “If it were not for them and their family, I would not be here today.”