GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — April is Donate Life Month, and a Grand Rapids woman’s life was saved by organ donation, not once but twice.

Paula Woods, a double kidney transplant recipient, sees everything she’s been through as a blessing and wants to share her story so others will consider becoming organ donors.

“I just see it as a blessing. Everything I went through I believe was in divine order from God. Everything,” Woods said.

No organ transplant journey is easy, but for Woods, the path to a new kidney the first time around was more than just challenging.

“There’s only two of us in our family. I’m the oldest. I have a brother, who at the time was incarcerated,” she said.

The key to Woods’ freedom and a healthy life was imprisoned behind bars.

News 8 followed Paula and her brother’s journey in 2000.

“And he (Woods’ brother) just called me one day and out of the blue and said you’re all I got and if I can’t help you nobody can,” she said.

But this gift of life Woods’ brother was ready to give came with a hefty price tag. The Michigan Department of Corrections wanted money — big money for transporting Woods’ brother from Muskegon to Grand Rapids for surgery, for the guards who would be watching him, meals for those corrections officers and retirement expenses. A total of more than $16,000.

When News 8 told Woods’ story back in 2000, viewers responded.

“Community just poured in after the story, the community just poured in,” she said.

Thousands were raised from generous viewers — money she was able to get to the Department of Corrections just in time for the scheduled surgery.

The hospital stay didn’t end up being as long as predicted, so the Department of Corrections refunded about half of that money.

Her brother’s kidney served Woods well for 12 years. In June 2012, she was in kidney failure again and back on dialysis.

Once again, Woods was on the kidney donation registry. The second time around her gift of life came from a dear friend’s tragedy.

It started with a phone call from St. Mary’s transplant unit.

“I have a kidney here with your name on it. And I’m like what? She said I have a kidney. I said can you tell me who it’s from? She said no I can’t disclose that … I went in (and) had the surgery. When I came out, my family, my brother, my sister-in-law, my best friend and the family that donated the kidney, who was mourning their son, sat through the surgery with my family. And when I woke up, she was the first person I saw,” Woods said.

“She” was a friend she worked with. They called themselves sisters from another mother. The woman, a mother herself, had just lost her young son in a motorcycle accident. She donated all of her son’s organs — including a kidney that went to Woods.

“I said, ‘I knew it, I knew it. But how could you be here?’ She said, ‘Because we love you and we know he would’ve wanted this,'” Woods said.

Blessed times two. A life Woods says she wouldn’t trade. Today, she’s healthy and says she will talk to anyone about organ donation and how it saves lives.

“I’m just thankful, I’m thankful, and I believe in organ donation,” she said.

For more information on organ donation or to register to become a donor, click here.