Joel and EJ Maldonado: the two sides of organ donation

Gift of Hope shares the testimonies of hispanic families impacted by the donation process.

CHICAGO, IL.– Every day thousands of families demonstrate steadfast courage as they cope with the tragic loss of a child, while thousands of others grasp on to their faith and hope as they wait for an organ donor and transplant that can keep their child alive. This April, National Donate Life Month, Gift of Hope shares the remarkable stories of two Latino families from Illinois; in recognition of the heroes who have given the gift of life and those who have received a second opportunity through organ and tissue donation.

Joel Delgado was welcomed into the world four months prematurely, at which time the doctors informed his parents that he would be a special needs baby. Despite this news, Blanca and Edgar Delgado’s hearts overflowed with love for their little boy. From that moment on, they made sure that Joel felt loved every day of his life. Unfortunately, Joel died three short years later and Blanca and Edgar were once again faced with a life changing decision; donating their son’s organs so that others could continue living. They had seen many other children at the hospital waiting for a transplant, so after suffering so much pain their decision came naturally: Joel would become the hope that other families were desperately waiting for.

Edgar, Joel’s father recalls “We had our son for three wonderful years and donating his organs meant that others would also get to enjoy more time with their loved ones.” Joel donated four organs, saving the lives of three other children.

“The families anxiously waiting for an organ transplant experience conflicting emotions when they receive the news that a compatible organ has been found for their child. They feel sadness for the other family’s loss and at the same time they are filled with joy because their loved one will continue living”, said Raiza Mendoza, Manager of Hispanic Affairs at Gift of Hope. “Loss and hope connect these families; it is only through organ donation that organ transplantation is possible and both experiences demand courage and faith to endure them.

The other side of donation happened in the home of the Maldonado family, one of many Hispanic families that Gift of Hope has assisted through the organ transplant process. Efrain and his wife Rachel were devastated by the news that one of their newborn twins E.J. was experiencing liver failure and urgently needed an organ transplant in order to continue living.

The possibility that they could lose their child and that E.J.’s sister Madeline would lose her twin brother consumed them with fear and uncertainty yet Efrain and Rachel maintained faith and courage through their harrowing experience. On Good Friday of 2011 E.J. was placed on the liver transplant waiting list. Four months later, and two weeks before his second birthday, he received the Gift of Life.  A generous family made the decision to donate their loved one’s organs and E.J. received a healthy new liver. The knowledge and strength that the Maldonado family gained from their experience inspired them to help other parents in similar situations.

“No one truly understands organ donation until your family is affected by it.  One family’s tragedy brings so much hope and life to another. Today I thank every donor family for making the hardest decision of their life. If it was not for a donor family, my son’s health would not be where it is today,” expressed Mrs. Maldonado.

According with UNOS, the organization in charge of the waiting list, nationally there are currently over 134,000 people waiting for an organ transplant. Nearly 25,000 of them are Hispanics and an alarming 2,000 of them are children. This National Donate Life Month Gift of Hope recognizes the courage and strength of the families who are waiting for a second opportunity at life and those who generously give the most precious gift of hope and life. The Delgado and Maldonado families are extraordinary examples of thousands of people who make the decision to remain strong and hopeful in the face of adversity and those who transform tragic loss into a life-saving miracle. (SOURCE: Gift of Hope)

Photo caption

EJ Maldonado and Joel Delgado, two angels of love. Photos: Gift of Hope





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