'Last act of service': Edinburg family shares son's organ donation story
Nearly 300 people have an extra chance at life — all thanks to Valley organ donors.
A record 35 people in the Valley donated their organs last year.
An Edinburg mother, who lost her son Jeramie in 2003, still remembers when she was able to hear his heart—beating in someone else’s body.
"The one I wanted to meet the most was the heart," said Sylvia Espinoza, whose son donated his organs. "I wanted to know who received his heart and I met him."
It's a day she and her husband, Gabriel, will carry with them forever.
Jeramie died in 2003, a few months before he was supposed to graduate from Edinburg North. Two weeks before his passing, Espinoza says their family stumbled on a show about organ transplants on television.
"I turned around and I asked Jeramie, ‘Jeramie, would you donate?,’” Espinoza said. “He goes, ‘Yeah mom, anyways when I die and you bury me, my body is going to turn into dust when somebody else could use my organs.'"
That conversation allowed the Espinoza’s to confidently make the decision to donate Jeramie's organs.
Since then, more and more families are choosing to do the same.
According to the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, in 2021, a record 35 people from the Rio Grande Valley became organ heroes like Jeramie, each saving up to eight other people.
"We all have a sunrise and we all have a sunset and this is an opportunity to leave a legacy, to help other people,” said TOSA Senior Communications Coordinator Edwina Garza. "It's your last act of service."
It's an act Espinoza encourages other families to discuss.
"It's amazing to see not only the gratitude of the recipient, but also their loved ones, their family members," Gabriel Espinoza said.
If you'd like to register to become an organ donor, visit https://www.tosa1.org/