BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Most people celebrate love on February 14, but one Bakersfield couple celebrates life.
Bakersfield resident Rochelle Vaughan said she and her husband, Jeff Vaughan, have never really celebrated Valentine’s Day.
“It’s not really Valentine’s, it’s National Donor Day,” she said. “Because a kidney is better than a box of chocolates, you know."
According to Tania Llavaneras, media relations specialist with OneLegacy, roughly 22,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant in California.
Vaughan was one of the thousands in need.
In 2015, her kidney function was at 9 percent, she was going through dialysis, and was in urgent need of a kidney.
When she applied for a kidney transplant she was told it would take about 13 years to find a donor.
After desperately looking for a match, she found one – her husband.
“If it wasn’t for his kidney, or if anyone else’s kidney that had offered hadn’t matched, I mean I could still be going to dialysis three days a week, spending four hours a day there and I would be significantly sicker than I was when I started that process,” she said.
Vaughan said the transplant journey has brought them closer together.
“He said you know it’s like we’re already close and now we’re just like, we’re like inseparable, like we’re just attached at the hip,” she said. “It’s been pretty amazing.”
According to Donate Life California, right now Kern County has about 400 people on the wait list for an organ transplant and only 31 percent of the county is registered as donors.
Vaughan said she hopes more living donors would register to help meet the great need.
“It’s just the most selfless gift someone could do,” she said.