Santos Gonzales

Organ Donor
Age 16 - Houston, TX

Signing a donor registration form was not how Houston resident Leonor Gonzales envisioned honoring her 16-year-old son, Santos "Makis" Gonzales, but she knew in her heart it was the right thing to do. After all, her son saved the lives of four people through organ donation when he died tragically on Nov. 12, 2009.

 

Walking into Ben Taub Hospital that day, will be with me for the rest of my life, said Leonor. I will never be able to thank everyone who fought so hard on behalf of my son.

 

The Gonzales family believes the movie, "Seven Pounds" starring Will Smith, sparked Santos' desire to become an organ donor. In fact, shortly before he passed away, he told his mother that if anything were to happen to him, he'd want to donate his organs. And he would want to make sure his family would meet the recipients. Leonor is quick to point out that she initially declined the opportunity to donate when she was approached, but was reminded of this conversation she had with her son.

 

The Gonzales family credits their decision to Elena Mendoza, Donation Clinical Specialist with LifeGift, for providing reassurance that they would have the chance to meet Santos' recipients.

 

While the Gonzales family hopes to meet all of Santos' recipients, the first person they wanted to meet was the man carrying their son's heart. They had the opportunity to meet this man, David Schoolcraft from La Porte, who was in desperate need of a heart transplant. Schoolcraft had been waiting for a heart for several months at The Methodist Hospital.

 

Since the reunion in July, the Gonzales family has bonded with David and considers him a new member of their family.

 

David says that Santos is a hero to him and no longer takes life for granted, but at the same time, he hurts for the Gonzales family because he knows theyve lost a brother and a son.

 

Recently, Leonor and Santos' entire family committed to being organ and tissue donors during a registry drive hosted by Santos' heart recipient. The event raised awareness of donation and generated more than 20 registrants.

 

Santos legacy will never be forgotten because his family made the unselfish choice to see beyond their own personal pain and grief, helping those waiting on a second chance at life. His memory will no doubt inspire others to give the ultimate gift  the gift of life.
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