My name is Judy Mancillas. I am originally from Arizona. I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene. I moved to Cloudcroft, New Mexico in 1996 and started a new career in Real Estate Sales. I still have my real estate license today, but I now work full time with The Ultimate Gift of Life Foundation, New Mexico (TUG).
I work with TUG because I have some personal experience with organ donation and transplantation. I remember having a conversation with my aunt, who is a Dominican Sister, when I was in grade school. I don’t remember why the topic came up, but we had a discussion about organ donation. My thought, at that time, was that God determines the number of our days, so we should not be interfering. My aunt said, “God has given us the knowledge and means to transplant organs. God is still in control.” After that conversation, I was convinced.
Besides being an organ donor, I tried to be a living donor three times. I signed up to be a bone marrow donor before I could even drive because a friend of the family needed a bone marrow transplant; unfortunately I was not a match.
Additionally, my only brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He went into remission for a short time, but then it came back. The chemotherapy was not working and doctors said they could try a bone marrow transplant. I was tested and found to be a match. However, before we could get the transplant done Jerry passed away. This all occurred at the same time I was being tested to see if I could give a kidney to my husband. I went through all the various tests and was found to be a match! The last one was an MRI where they found that I have benign cysts on one kidney and a benign tumor on the other. Doctors said that I might need both of my kidneys down the road, so we could not go through with the transplant. Joe was on both of the transplant waiting lists, the “big list” and the “more mature list”. We did get one call one night and made our way to Albuquerque where they prepped Joe for surgery. Once the kidney arrived, doctors decided that it was not healthy enough to transplant. Sadly, Joe died in a work related accident before we got the next call.
Organ donation is something I strongly believe in. In my real estate career, I got to meet and work with wonderful people. It was a good feeling to find and help someone purchase a home or to help them sell a home so they could move on to the next chapter in their life. However, I had been thinking about what else I could do that I was more passionate about, something where I could impact more than just a few people’s lives. The Answer is The Ultimate Gift of Life Foundation, New Mexico!
I am grateful and honored to be able to work for The Ultimate Gift of Life Foundation. All three of the people I tried to help, died before they could get the life saving transplant that they needed. There is urgency to organ donation and I am proud to be out there getting the word out about how we can all save lives by being an organ donor!