OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Nita French of Ocean Springs celebrates two birthdays each year. One marks the year of her birth, while the second is the anniversary of her receiving a new kidney and pancreas.
This mother of three appreciates the gift of life and is a strong advocate for organ donation.
"I enjoy every minute of life. I get up every morning and think, I'm just so grateful to be here," said Nita French.
She appreciates life so much, because she came close to losing hers. Diagnosed with diabetes at 12, it would be years later when her health declined dramatically.
"The same day that I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I found out my kidneys were failing. So, the pregnancy was extremely difficult. I delivered my baby at 25 weeks. We both almost died," she said.
Nita calls Grace, now 11-years-old, her miracle child. Nita's life saving miracle, a double transplant, would follow just a few years later. She was on the transplant "waiting list" for two and a half years, which included two false alarms. The first was difficult, the second nearly crushed her spirit.
"I went to dialysis that morning and sat in the chair for three and a half hours and just cried. Because I really felt like God had forgotten about me. And I was just really tired of being sick," she recalled.
Her angel arrived in the person of 27-year-old Patrick from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Actually, it was his untimely death that gave Nita her new life.
"I just kind of look at him in awe and just think about how amazing it is that I'm here because of what he did," said Nita.
She got to meet his family and thank his mother in person for the son's selfless gift.
"It's really neat to find out about him and find out who he was. Because he's a part of me. He's the reason I'm alive. And I'm so grateful for that."
This young woman who received a new kidney and pancreas is now healthy and so happy. She's married to an Air Force captain, Dennie French, and has three beautiful girls; along with a message for anyone who'll listen: Consider being an organ donor.
"There are so many people who are like me, who wake up every morning and think, 'Please let this be the day. Please let somebody save my life.'"
There are currently more than 102,000 people in the United States who are on waiting lists for life saving organ transplants. The process to become an organ donor is easy. Visit www.donatelifems.org to learn more.