Fresno woman honored as Living Donor Hero after saving multiple lives

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno woman is being honored by Donate Life California for her sacrifice and commitment to spreading awareness about organ donation.

Regina Tanner, a retired nurse, and attorney became a living donor nearly 3 years ago. Her husband, Dr. Cary Tanner needed a new kidney and when Regina volunteered to donate hers they asked if she'd take part in a paired kidney donation that would save 18 lives.

"The transplant team contacted us and asked us if we'd be willing to donate my kidney to someone we didn't know, a stranger, who'd been waiting for a long time for a kidney transplant," explained Tanner.

9 people received kidneys and 9 others were moved up on the transplant waiting list.

"We agreed quickly because we thought we'd be helping someone else and my husband would be helped at the same time," added Tanner.

Regina and her husband quickly recovered from their surgeries.

"He just lit up when he woke up from anesthesia," said Tanner. "He was bright, alert and feeling well. It was a stunning change."

Now Regina works as an advocate for organ donation and is a volunteer for Donor Network West, working to make sure the nearly 113,000 people in the US waiting for a transplant have the same opportunity as her husband.

"Her story speaks for herself," said Marcella Corona with Donor Network West. "She's an amazing human being and saved a stranger's life and her husband happened to be the recipient of her generosity. It's a beautiful a love story."

As the 2020 Living Donor Hero Regina will walk in the Rose Parade on New Year's Day.

"I've always thought the floats were so beautiful," said Tanner. "This gives me the opportunity to experience something I've wanted to experience my whole life."

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