In the U.S. more than 120,000 people are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. In Nevada that list includes almost 600 men, women and children. Many don’t understand how organ donation works and advocates work tirelessly to spread awareness.

This week, we had the chance to sit down with a few local families who shared their very personal experiences having a loved one become a donor.

“We miss her every day…she was a great kid,” says Nancy Ponte, softly - a lump in her throat.

It's the thing that none of us likes to even think about; losing a loved one.

"Haylee, two years ago - January 2015, she had an asthma attack, suddenly." The 19-year-old UNR student didn't survive, but mom Nancy says her daughter saved the lives of seven others because Haylee was a registered organ donor. "A bad thing turned into a good thing".

"A lot of people don't understand what it means,” says Gloria Garcia Orme. “I think they don't know about it and then are faced with the decision when something tragic happens.”

Like Nancy, Gloria and Robin Orme are advocates for organ donation. And while it's bittersweet, they're proud their son Noah signed up to be a donor when he got his license at 16. Last year they lost Noah when he was just 25.

Dad Robin’s eyes well up every time he thinks of his boy. “He was always a very generous, loving and creative son - he was beautiful." The words struggle to get through the emotion in his voice.

Noah's kidney and pancreas saved the life of native Nevadan Amy Camacho. Just days ago, the three met in person for the first time.

"I just wanna hold on to them and not let go and I hope they know how appreciative I am," says Amy, who got to see pictures of Noah for the first time and hug his parents.

One of the easiest ways to register as a donor is through the DMV. One person can save up to eight lives and virtually anyone can donate. “Donors from to newborns up to age 80/81 can be organ donors and tissue can be older than that as well,” says Sean Van Slyck, COO for Donor Network West.

And as uncomfortable as the subject is, knowing if a loved one wishes to be an organ donor before tragedy strikes can make all the difference. "You should discuss that and see what their wishes are, ‘cause it did make it a lot easier once we knew that's what she wanted," says Ponte about her daughter, Haylee, who had registered on campus.

Click links below for more information about life saving organ donations.