(WTVM) - "The sweetest words you'll ever hear is 'It's a go.'"
In 2010, Tony Dozier heard these sweet words after being notified that he had been chosen to receive a new heart.
"On December 20, 2010 they placed me on the list. We were expecting a three month to two year wait, if I lived that long, which was highly improbable that I would. Six days later, the day after Christmas at 9 at night, we got the call," explains Dozier.
Dozier and his wife left immediately for Birmingham and after hearing the good news, he was in surgery by 3 am.
Now, Dozier is in better shape than ever, walking two to three miles a day and going to the gym frequently;something he never expected to be able to do just three and half years ago.
"A lot of people ask me if I was apprehensive or scared and I really wasn't," says Dozier. "I never had anxiety about having the transplant. I knew I wasn't going to get any better the way I was."
April 1 marked the first day of national Donate a Life Month, where organizations promote donation awareness and registration.
The East Alabama Medical Center honored donors and recipients this morning by raising the Donate a Life Flag in their honor.
"That is our first priority, it's to save a life, but when we know that is over and there is no hope, then we look toward saving someone else's life," explains EAMC's RN and Director of Patient Flow, Trinchua Dukes.
By being an organ donor, you have the ability to save the lives of eight people.
A new person is added to the waiting list every 18 minutes and for an average of 19 people per day, the wait is too long and they die before a suitable organ is available.
"It just means that people do get second changes," says Dukes.
You never know if you or someone you love will be in need of an organ donation. Just recently, Dozier received a letter from his donor's sister and learned his new heart belonged to a 23-year-old Marine who was tragically killed in a car wreck.
Dozier says he hopes to meet his donor's family in person very soon.
"It is just hard to imagine that anyone that young thought to sign up to be a donor and I know how hard it must be for the family to have it occur," says Dozier. "But there is no way to adequately express my appreciation for what he gave me."