WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — At only 16-years-old, Diego Degrossi made an impact on his community. His dad said he was passionate, spontaneous, and loved his family.
"He was funny, he had many friends," said Martin Degrossi, describing his son. "He was a really good athlete, he played soccer and he played basketball."
But on June 30, 2019, Martin said his whole world changed.
"We received a call regarding an accident, and it turned out to be a drowning in a lake," Martin said.
Diego was rushed to the hospital and he fought for nearly a week. His parents ultimately decided to turn their nightmare into a positive, which was a decision sparked by a conversation with a mom whose daughter received a donor gift.
"She said the donor didn't just save the child but saved a family," said Martin, as his eyes welled up with tears.
Diego's heart, kidneys, blue eyes, and tissues helped save three people and three families.
More than 100,000 people across the country are desperately waiting for an organ transplant, and about every nine minutes another person is added to that list.
"My wish would be for everyone to register," said Cynthia Hacker, OPO Community Education Manager with Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency.
Hacker is encouraging everyone to become an organ donor.
"Right now, we have 50% of the state registered, but it's still not enough," Hacker said.
More than 5,000 Floridians are on the transplant waiting list. April is National Donate Life Month to help raise awareness, and several locations around Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties will be lit blue and green as a symbol of hope that those waiting will get their transplant soon.
"It gave us purpose, and from that moment on we found more purpose," Martin said.
The Degrossi family has been working with Life Alliance holding 5Ks, raising money, and keeping Diego's legacy alive.
"Trying to turn it into a positive, and what better way to turn it into a positive than extend life not just to one person, but to a family," Martin said.
About 17 people nationwide die each day waiting for an organ transplant, and one donor can save as many as eight lives.
To learn more about becoming an organ donor, click here.