While families are gift-giving across the Tri-Cities, one family is waiting on the gift of life. 

According to the Tennessee Donor Registry, 20 people die everyday waiting on a life-saving organ transplant. The registry website says one donor can save eight lives. 

“It’s the gift of life and I always thought that was a such a cliche but it’s not, you know, I’m living proof of that,” said fifty-seven-year-old Lawson Burrow.

Burrow said he never considered becoming a donor until he was diagnosed with a deadly lung disease about four years ago. 

“It was truly devastating,” said his wife, Mary Burrow, “They told us that he had three years to live.” 

The news took the career carpenter and family man off his feet. Family members described him as adventurous and the life of the party. 

“He’s my dad and we need him back to what he was,” said his step daughter Jennifer Brumitt. 

Now, a double lung transplant at Vanderbilt will give Burrow an opportunity to engage with his family like he used to and even get back to work. 

“Without the transplant, without the donors, this is just not a possibility for people to live,” Burrow said. 

He said when he initially was diagnosed he was full of despair but this opportunity has given him hope: “I now realize that there is hope and I’m not doing this by myself.” 

Family members said, with one income to pay the bills, that hope has come with an enormous cost after years of treatment leading up to the transplant. 

“The cost was just overwhelming and to be honest with you we ended up having to file bankruptcy because there was 50 thousand dollars worth of medical expenses,” said Mary Burrow. 

She said that’s not including the cost of temporary relocation required in the wake of Burrow’s transplant. 

“If they call tomorrow, we have to go tomorrow and we just need to be able to know that we will be ok once we get there,” said Brumitt. 

“I never thought I would have to ask for help but at this point he’s not going to survive without it,” said Mary Burrow. 

The family has started a GoFundMe page to help offset the medical expenses.

You can become an organ donor in Tennessee by signing up here.