Paul Nelson
Channel 2 News

Thumbing through family pictures, you can tell that Jaimie Metzker has a lifetime of memories of her late husband, JK.

"This is the first house that we bought," Metzker said as she pointed at a picture. "How cute and dorky are we?"

JK died when he was hit by a car, last November, leaving Jaimie to raise their three young sons. But through tragedy, there is triumph. JK saved four lives, that day.

"We found out, right away, that his heart and lungs were going to a young woman, who was about his age," Metzker said. "And the boys immediately said, 'Mom, we've got to find out who this woman is because she's family.' They feel like their dad is inside someone else."

JK's kidneys went to two people, in the Bay Area, and his liver went to a man, in Sacramento. Jaimie hasn't met any of the people who gained so much from her husband, but says she hopes that changes.

"I would love to meet the people," Metzker said. "I would love to have them in our family and let them see the boys being raised."

There are 2.6 million deaths, every year, in the United States. Of those, only 7,000 are actual organ donors. That is something the Community Development Liason with the California Transplant Donor Network says isn't good enough. Especially, with 115,000 people waiting for transplants.

"We have people dying every day, waiting for organs," Wendy Knorr said.

For every donor, eight lives could be saved and 50 more lives could be improved with tissue donations.

Although the decision to donate organs might be hard for some, Jaimie says it's something she would do again. In fact, she is also a registered organ donor.

"There's so many lives that could be saved and just getting them off dialysis is one thing," Metzker said. "It's amazing how their lives can change."

While this can save thousands of lives, every year, experts say it is also good for the healing process of those who lost a loved one.

"It never replaces the person," Knorr said. "It is a tremendous loss for family and friends. That death is a huge loss but out of that, a lot of families report that it gives them a sense of peace."

"It makes it more comforting to know that those blessings are out there and that he has saved four lives," Metzker said.

The families of Northern Nevadans who donated their organs, last year, will be honored at a first-ever Reno area event, this Saturday, at the University of Nevada. Several transplant recipients will also be on hand.