Every year, the month of April helps raise awareness about organ donation where Americans are encouraged to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.
Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Dallas kicked off National Donate Life Month by honoring a special organ donor and his ‘act of kindness.’
The pain of losing him does not waver, but his final gift helps.
“The way we describe Jordan is someone who lived life and gave life,” said Andrew Santiago.
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His son Andrew Jordan Santiago’s memory isn’t the only thing living on.
His ultimate donation is too.
In October 2020, the beloved 25-year-old accountant was killed in an Uptown hit-and-run crash as he walked home from a hockey game.
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The young man full of life and love for those around him had long been a registered organ donor, so his grieving parents respected his decision and signed off on his organ donation.
Santi, as he was known to friends and loved ones, went on to save five lives and help 75 people in all, including Deborah Taylor of Burleson.
“I said prayers for this young man since the day I got his transplant,” said Taylor becoming emotional. “I knew he sacrificed a lot.”
Taylor said she was diagnosed with COPD-4 in 2019. The disease nearly killed her on several occasions. She eagerly awaited a compatible double-lung transplant, until October 2020 following Santiago’s passing.
“[Doctors] came in and said: ‘Ok, we’re taking you down.’ I said: They’re good?! They go: ‘Yeah,’” she said with a laugh. “I woke up the next day and said: Where’s my husband.”
A grateful Taylor feels ‘great’ and met the Santiagos for the first time on Friday.
“It was very emotional,” she said. “I wanted to hear this young man’s story because he sacrificed a lot for people.”
On Thursday, the family met with another recipient and heard their son’s heartbeat once again.
“I had an image of my son. I saw Jordan smiling because that’s the person he was, smiling. And I think that Jordan would say: ‘Dad, if I had to do it all over, I would do it,’” said Santiago. “That heartbeat will forever be a song in my ear.”
The Santiagos were honorees at Baylor Scott & White in Dallas, one of the busiest transplant centers where 45 organ donors saved 150 lives last year alone, according to Southwest Transplant Alliance.
The family raised a ‘Donate Life’ flag hoping others do as Santi did.
“Organ donation is nothing more than extending someone’s life and giving them a purpose to continue to fulfill their purpose on this earth,” said Santiago. “And that is so important to me, to fulfill your God-given purpose.”
The hit-and-run driver has not been charged in the case, according to Santiago.
The family, however, wants to move on and focus on what Santi would have wanted: helping others in his memory.
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