There are some people in this world who are just simply good people. They are unselfishly devoted to the welfare of others, and in doing so, they forsake their own cares and worries.
Being this unselfish is noble, and like the woman in the following story will display, it’s inspiring. What makes this woman’s organ donation different from others, is that she was in the small population of living donors who didn’t care about who received her organ. But when she learned who got it, everything changed…
A New Life
Giving birth for the first time is an experience that is so fulfilling to mothers and fathers alike, that the last thing they could imagine is their child being in pain. When it feels like your heart is literally beating outside of your body, seeing your little one suffer is the hardest thing a new parent could deal with.
Samantha Gonzales knows this pain all too well. Shortly after her son’s birth, doctors discovered that her son had a life-threatening defect which was causing his liver to fail. He was exhausted all the time and couldn’t eat solid food…
The World Was Caving In
In addition to learning of Manolo’s diagnosis, Gonzales also had another thing on her plate. The same time that this was happening, her relationship with her son’s father was not doing too well. She was slowly giving up hope that there were any good people in the world.
Unaware Of What Was Happening Hundreds Of Miles Away
Little did Gonzales know that a complete stranger living 700 miles away in Montana was in the process of donating part of her liver for Manolo. The donor, Rebecca LaSalle, 24, had never met the Gonzales family before and this would be her second time donating an organ…
Two years ago in 2016, Rebecca anonymously donated a kidney. But a liver transplant is a more difficult and risky operation. While surgery of any kind carries risks, the good thing about the liver is that it’s the only organ in the body that’s able to regenerate. Usually, with most organs like the heart, the damaged tissue is replaced with a scar. The liver, however, can actually replace damaged tissue with new cells.
Her Reason Was Simple
Rebecca was clear that she wanted to donate a part of her liver to whoever needed it the most. She merely just wanted somebody else to live. While you would think any healthcare professional would be grateful for the opportunity to take part in such a selfish act, they had major concerns. They didn’t exactly welcome Rebecca’s request with open arms…
To make sure she was doing this for the right reasons and that she was in the right state of mind. As Dr. Elizabeth Pomfret from the University of Colorado Hospital explains, “with altruism comes a healthy dose of skepticism.”
Before even being able to schedule surgery, Rebecca had to go through dozens of in-depth tests. Besides being in optimal health, she was also evaluated by a psychiatrist, a social worker, and a nurse coordinator. It seems that she was the one who needed to convince medical professionals of why she was doing this…
Getting Ready For Surgery
After getting over that hurdle, Dr. Pomfret explains, “It was [Rebecca’s] demeanor and her passion and her conviction and her maturity.” Rebecca was ready to go through with the surgery without specifying who would be the receiver of her kidney.
Dr. Pomfret, who removed part of Rebecca’s liver, said that living donor transplants make up about 4% of all liver transplants done in the U.S. each year. Unlike most of the 8,000 liver donors in the U.S. just last year, Rebecca didn’t know or didn’t care who received that gift. She simply wanted to help someone out…
Manolo’s only cure was to go through with the transplant and the family was over the moon when they learned of the anonymous donation. Upon waking up from surgery, Gonzales didn’t know what to expect from her son Manolo. She figured it would take some time for him to get used to the new liver in his body.
A Healthy Little Boy
To her surprise, there was no transition period. From the moment Manolo woke up after the operation, it was like he did “a complete 180.” Gonzales explained she was shocked to learn that her son was ready to eat that same day and he was ready to start crawling…
After learning of her son’s diagnosis, Samantha feared he wouldn’t even make it to 18-months, but now that he did, she is forever grateful. Shortly after the life-changing transplant, Gonzales became curious about who her son’s donor was.
Wanting To Meet Their Real-Life Angel
What does this person look like? Is the person male or female? How old are they? Where do they live? These were all questions that Gonzales had and she contacted the hospital to see if the donor would be willing to meet her and Manolo…
First Time Meeting
Rebecca jumped at the opportunity to meet little Manolo and his mom. Samantha hugged her immediately and said, “At that time [when Manolo got sick], I was going through a really hard time with his dad and with what was going on with [Manolo].”
An Emotional Thank You
With tears streaming down her face, she said, “I had, like, lost faith in any kind of good person out in the world.” That was, until she met Rebecca. “There are no words I can express to you for how thankful I am for what you’ve done.” Rebecca had a simple explanation for why she did what she did…
It goes back to a lesson that her mother drilled into her every day. “Before I could walk to school when I was a little girl…she would say, ‘Make the world’ and you had to say ‘a better place.’ And you would always groan it out,” Rebecca said.
Inspiration From Childhood
But looking back now her mother was right. Not only does her upbringing explain Rebecca’s inspiration, but it also explains the emotional letter she wrote to Manolo for him to read when he grows up…
A Letter For Manolo
A part of the letter read: “Most of all, I hope that this opportunity will inspire you to help others to make the world a better place.” She didn’t just stop there and she shared many other kind words with Manolo, that he will hopefully understand and appreciate when he’s older.
Pass It On
Rebecca also told Manolo’s mom that she doesn’t ever want her to feel like she’s indebted to her. “I don’t ever want you to have to feel like you have to say thank you because he deserved it.” We’re certain of one thing, that this is a story that will continue because there are many more good deeds to come.