LEE CO., GA (WALB) - A Lee County family is speaking out to help encourage community members to become organ donors. It's part of organ donor awareness month. They believe donating their son's organs to help save the lives of others is the best way to give back.
He was an average teen - who enjoyed skateboarding and dreamed of serving his country when suddenly, Nick Pender's life was cut short.
"At times it hurt as much as it did when it first happened. But we know he's in a better place," Father Edward Pender said. "We know he's with friends and family and loved ones."
Nearly five years ago Nick was struck and killed by a car on Philema Road in Lee County. He was just 16 years old. His parents made the decision to donate his organs, Nick died a hero.
"With the way things turned out he would want this," Pender continued.
The family says the rambunctious teen had a huge heart--a heart that is now thriving inside of a North Carolina girl named Deasia. Last year the two went to visit the 13 year old and after a joyous embrace one question came to mind.
Pender asked, "Can we listen to nicks heart?"
An echo of rhythmic thuds filled his and his wife's ears, it was their son.
"It was remarkable, we hugged, we cried," Pender shared.
And it wouldn't have been possible without the help of Lifelink Georgia, an organization dedicated to organ transplant therapy. Education specialist Carla Hawkins says there are over 124,000 people who are on an organ waiting list.
But with a a shortage of donors many never receive a transplant. As a result, every day at least 18 people die. Hawkins believes lack of education and discussion pulls people away from giving.
"You're standing in the balance between life and death for someone and multiple people so why not be a hero," Hawkins said.
A hero to someone in need, like a child fighting for her second chance at life.
"Deasia Washington Pender. She's us...she's us," Pender said.
"Organ donation is a positive thing, we need to start looking at it in a positive light," Hawkins continued. "We need to learn and educate ourselves and realize that we can make a difference."
A young man who still lives on through the lives of others.