Carlos Aguilar

What began as a simple problem with his knee, later revealed much more serious issues with his health: he and his mother Lilia learned that his kidneys were failing.

After 6 years of waiting, Carlos Aguilar of Hillsboro, Oregon received his life-saving kidney transplant. A family acquaintance, who learned about Carlos through their church, stepped forward to be tested as his living donor and turned out to be a blood and tissue match.  

Carlos' journey began years ago, when a simple problem with his knee led to an examination and biopsy, revealing much more serious issues with his health: kidney failure.  

“At first it all overwhelmed me: finding out what was happening with my kidneys; that I couldn’t graduate on time from school… realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to do what I had wanted to was difficult.  I have a lot of help from my family, but it has been hard,” he said. 

Despite his kidney failure, Carlos never felt abnormal. “The lucky thing is I never had super bad symptoms from kidney failure,” he said. “I was sickest this last year on dialysis. It really took a lot of energy out of me, gave me headaches to the point where I wanted my family to leave me alone in quiet, and with the diet my appetite just went away and I started losing a lot of weight.”

Now, post-transplant, Carlos is on the road to recovery and “normalcy”. The emotional and financial support of his family, classmates, and community bolstered Carlos throughout the years as his need for a transplant became more urgent. 

For the Aguilar family, the importance of registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor is clear: a greater diversity of donors means better chances of matching for everyone on the waiting list. For young adults like Carlos, signing up to be a donor and spreading the word about living kidney donation is a chance, “as if someone were saving my life.” 

Donate Life Northwest urges people to designate themselves as a donor. Code your driver's license as donor, sign up on line at, or call 503.494.7888 or 1.800.452.1369 for a paper registry form. Please... share your decision with your family!