RAMAPO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Ever since her life-saving heart transplant, a Rockland County woman has been paying it forward.
As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, Roxanne Watson often carries a picture of the young man who saved her life when he died in a motorcycle accident seven years ago. He served in the Coast Guard and had registered as an organ donor in several states.
“He was an organ donor. He was signed up in New York, New Jersey and in the Coast Guard, and he was a fireman and an EMT. So he was a lifesaver,” Watson told Hsu.
She had waited two years for a heart transplant before 23-year-old Michael Bovill gave her his heart. She has since become very close with Bovill’s family, and just a few weeks ago, his father listened to his heart beating in her chest.
“I was dying. So, even when I was in the hospital, I said if I lived, I would do this work,” Watson said.
That work is getting people to register to donate their organs. Wednesday at Rockland Community College, student Priya Greg became the 10,000th organ donor signed up by Watson.
“Even though I feel like sometimes I can’t do much, I know that at least my organs will be able to help someone else,” Greg said.
It’s fitting that Watson chose the college for the milestone, since she’s recruited 4,000 organ donors from the school.
Each donor can save multiple people with their organs. Bovill saved five.
Watson travels the country sharing their story.
“If I can save a life, then I’ve done my part,” said another student.
There are more than 120,000 Americans on the waiting list for an organ and nearly 10,000 in New York alone. According to LiveOnNY, a New Yorker dies every 18 hours waiting for an organ transplant. It only takes a moment to register.
Now that Watson has signed up 10,000 organ donors, her next goal is 15,000.