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Alec Watson, center, and his parents Leanna and Matthew, look at a photo album containing pictures of his first year of life in a hospital treating his congenital heart disease.

Alec Watson knows the value of donated blood, so for the second consecutive year the Santa Ynez Valley teen has organized a blood drive. Coordinated through United Blood Services, it will take place Jan. 28 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Solvang.

Watson, now 18, was born with a congenital heart defect. He had two open heart surgeries and required more than 70 units of blood before his first birthday.

It was only natural then that when Watson was looking for an Eagle Scout project last year, a blood drive came to mind. With the help of his mother, Leanna Watson, they connected with United Blood Services. His church allowed them to use their gym for the drive and members of his Scout troop pitched in as volunteers.

The result was a rousing success. The average blood drive collects 20 to 30 units. Watson's February 2016 drive took in 72 units at the event, and another 11 units were donated at other sites in his name. He decided soon after to make the Alec Watson Blood Drive an annual event.

"The only reason why I'm alive today is because of a lot of prayers, amazing doctors and nurses and strangers who donated blood to save me," he said.

United Blood Services personnel were so impressed with Watson's personalized message on the importance of donating blood, they even produced a video with him spreading the word. With more than 20,000 views, it's gone "mini-viral," said his proud mom.

You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/p1Ox4h_oM2o.

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