As the youngest of three brothers, Alfonso Garcia always thought he’d follow in their footsteps by boxing at the amateur level and perhaps entering a career in the military.
But following a workout in the ring on January 23, 2010 Alfonso grew sick. Eventually, the whites of the 15-year-old’s eyes and his skin changed to a mustard yellow color. He was tired and couldn’t get out of bed. Why, his parents asked, had their normally healthy son suddenly grown so sick?
Doctors didn’t know. And once they found the answer, it wasn’t one any parent would want to hear. A previously undiscovered genetic disorder caused Alfonso’s liver to suddenly shut down. Without a liver transplant, the Northern California high school student would likely die in days.
From his hospital bed, Alfonso told his shaken father, Oscar, he wanted a priest to administer the last sacraments. Would anyone step forward to save the life of this teenager?
Alfonso’s miracle came about 24 hours later.
George Becker signed up as an organ and tissue donor when he got his driver license at 16, never anticipating his life would end at 22 as the result of a sinus infection. His liver would save Alfonso’s life – and other organs rescued two others.
“I was on the edge of dying and through a miracle, I am alive today. It’s because of a donor and his gift. I think about George every day.”
Because of his illness and liver transplant, Alfonso’s life took a different path than he had dreamed of as a child. In May of 2016, Alfonso graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in communication studies and was recognized with the James F. Kenney Award, an award given to a student who has overcome a difficult circumstance with grace, courage and strength and inspires others by his/her example. While in college, Alfonso completed an internship with Donor Network West, the local organ recovery organization, and volunteered hundreds of hours for organ donation outreach – as did his immediate family and donor family.
A life-long baseball fan, Alfonso worked with San Francisco Giants MLB baseball team, completing a two-year social media internship. “I grew up a baseball fan and I have always admired the Giants, but my love for the team became bigger when I had the opportunity to throw the first pitch as part of Donate Life Day in 2011. Shortly after, I met my donor family and have been in touch with them ever since.”
Says Alfonso of his donor family, “We do family events together and check in with each other often. Now we are connected for life. I can’t really describe it but it is an emotional bond; I look at them as my heroes but also as an extension of my family.
“I will continue to work hard to make George proud and thanking him for giving me this gift. I will also keep serving those in the community who are still waiting for their transplant.”More Stories