The Peach State has a high number of people living with kidney disease

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) - Doctors at the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Transplant Center are celebrating 50 years of saving people's lives.

NewsChannel 6's reporter Devin Johnson spoke with a physician about how becoming donor can save several people.

"The CSRA, in general, has a very high concentration of patients with kidney disease, and more and more people are dying from that," explained Dr. Carlos Zayas.

Since 1968, Augusta University Medical Center has performed more than 2,600 kidney and pancreas transplants.

Dr. Zayas says in the southeast our diet and lifestyle prompts kidney disease. African Americans are most at risk due to high blood pressure and diabetes. 

"It's all those reasons, and we see more kidney disease in this region. and that's why need more potential donors to save more lives," said Zayas.

Dr. Zayas says 122,000 people are waiting for transplants in America. 110,000 of those patients are looking for kidneys, with 6,000 people waiting right here in the peach state. He says there is a big need for donors.

"We increase the chances of those waiting for a kidney to receive one. one person every 24 hours dies waiting for a transplant," said Zayas.

The professor of medicine and surgery encourages everyone to think about becoming a donor when it's time to update their drivers license.

He says it will save a life as it did his when he had cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant.

"To have experienced what those people go through, it something that has no value," explained Zayas. "It goes beyond words."

When you walk around in the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Transplant Center, you'll see superheroes at every door.

Dr. Zayas also known as "Ironman" says their job as transplant surgeons, is to protect the citizens of the river region.

"We're superheroes; we are helping others survive and enjoy life," said Zayas.

There will be a 50th-anniversary celebration Saturday morning in the Carlos and Marguerite Mason solid organ transplant center. Donors and receivers are expected to attend.

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