On National Donor Day, Suffolk family celebrates the gift of life

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SUFFOLK, Va. - The Chalmers family has a lot to celebrate this Valentine's Day, the most important being a new heart for their teenage daughter.

Not only is it Valentine's Day, but February 14 is also National Donor Day and Donate Life Virginia has been celebrating stories like that of the Chalmers family all month.

Jasmine Chalmers, 14, was born with a congenital heart defect.

The defect lead to six open-heart surgeries and four cardiac catheterizations, including her first at three months old when it was discovered she had an unbalanced artioventricular canal, meaning her heart only had one pump.

On December 12, 2016, the prayers of the family were answered after a compatible heat donor was found and Jasmine underwent the 13-hour transplant surgery.

Her mother, Chaunta Chalmers, was able to take additional time-off from her job at the Virginia Department of Social Services thanks to coworkers who donated hundreds of hours of leave.

The Sheriff's office in Suffolk also took action, coming up with a plan to shop for the entire family for Christmas.

Suffolk Sheriff E.C. Harris was so inspired by Jasmine's story that he registered to be a donor as well.

Jasmine's story highlights the importance of organ donation. Approximately 8,000 Americans die every year while waiting for a transplant, and more than 2,500 Virginians are waiting for an organ donation, according to Donate Life Virginia.

You can learn more about the importance of organ donation in the Commonwealth here.