Christiansburg family and donor share transplant story for National Donate Life Month

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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) April is Donate Life month, a national effort to get more people to sign up to be organ donors.

A Christiansburg family is living proof how valuable donations can be.

Scott Cook has battled diabetes most of his life. But in 1998, he went into kidney failure and had to go on dialysis.

"[My] quality of life, I didn't really recognize that I was up here and good and all of a sudden you drop down," he said. "I just thought I was staying the same level, I didn't realize how sick I was getting."

His wife Melissa Cook added, "He, basically, was sleep, dialysis, and work and that was hard on us as a family. You really couldn't do anything else."

Melissa donated a kidney to Scott in 1999. 10 years later, that kidney failed.

That's when Melissa's co-worker at the Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, Amanda Smith, volunteered to be a new donor.

She explained, "I knew I was meant to do this. God just pressed it on my heart. I knew I was a match before I even got tested, that's how sure I was about this."

Scott and Melissa originally said no, not wanting the single mother of one to risk anything. But Smith wouldn't accept that, saying the blessing of helping the family outweighs the risk.

"It's hard to believe that there's people out there that are that gracious to even be willing to consider it," Melissa said. "For her, there was no benefit to it other than just being our hero."

Scott said, "I can say thank you 1,000 times but it's just not enough for me, still, for what she's done for us."

Now this family, that is not so much joined at the hip but rather at the kidney, is using their story to spread the message to the public to donate life.

"There's 3,000 something people in Virginia waiting on transplants," Scott explained. "It's just unbelievable how many people it can help and save, from babies to 80-year old people."

And Smith said the donors get almost as much out of helping as those they're saving.

"I got such a blessing being able to give and to see the difference I've made in their family," she said. "It was worth it, I would do it again."

Smith now uses her own story to convince others to donate .

"You won't regret it, it's the best decision that I've made. I'm very glad I did it," she said.

Scott said he is feeling good now. He had to go back on insulin after 10 years without it.

He is still working full-time and he's able to spend time with his son.

Click on the links attached to this article to learn about Donate Life Virginia or UNOS where you can see how many people are on the transplant list.