PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Researchers have discovered a way to make damaged organs more viable, and doctors say transplants could save more lives.

A vigil was held in Delaware County over the weekend to remember 17-year-old Damian Hocker, who was killed in a crash.

His father revealed that he was an organ donor.

“From what I hear, he was able to save five different lives,” said Doug Hocker, Damian's father.

April is Donate Life Month, highlighting the importance of: organ donor For his contribution to the rescue of people like bird expert Eduardo Iñigo Elias, who received a liver transplant.

“I am very grateful to my organ donors and their families. I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to prolong my life,” Elias said. “My family is grateful.”

Elias had severe liver cirrhosis due to non-alcoholic liver disease.He spent over 6 years on it transplant list He was waiting for a new liver as his health deteriorated.

When a donor liver finally became available, doctors determined that the organ's fat content compromised its viability.

“We try to use every organ, but there are some that we can't use, such as fatty livers or aging livers,” said Dr. Leona Kim Schulger, associate director of the Recanati/Miller Transplant Institute at Mount Sinai. speaks. .

Mount Sinai doctors used a new technique called organ perfusion on the donated liver.

“This machine allows us to literally cleanse our organs,” Kim Schluger said. “We're injecting nutrients and oxygen. We're measuring organ viability. This allows us to use more organs, and obviously…the more organs we have, the more lives will be saved.”

It has been more than 18 months since Elias' transplant. He hopes that by sharing his story, more people will register as organ donors. Doctors say each donor saves eight lives and could save more than 75 more lives. Donors can also use organs from living donors for some transplants, such as kidneys.

“I don't have any more complications. The medicine is working, my liver function is normal, and my energy is back,” Elias said. “Everything is perfect.”

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