San Antonio.- Every day we hear tragedies of someone in need of an organ. A 2012 research conducted by the New York Organ Donor Network shows about 18 people die every day waiting for organ transplants. Here in the US, 115,000 people are on a waiting list for an organ transplant and every 10 minutes, another name is added to the list. One of them is Christina Olivarez, a local mother of three.
Five years ago Olivarez had high blood pressure; resulting in kidney failure. Since then, she has spent every other day at the hospital, enduring dialysis for hours at a time. She has never missed a treatment. Even then, she didn’t let her illness stop her. She went to school, and recently graduated in December with a degree in medical billing and coding.
“The whole time I was at school, no one knew I was sick,” Olivarez said. “I knew I had to keep going, around the end I was going through a depression. I didn’t want to do anything and I was ready to give up.”
Luckily for Olivarez; through a turn of amazing events, she is about to have a second chance at life. Few people would be willing to give up a part of themselves–literally: especially for a stranger. A man named Raul Palacios, father of three as well, had willingly offered her his kidney, before even meeting her.
It started at a family reunion, where Raul’s wife Sonia visited with her brother-in-law, when she heard about Christina’s plight. She asked her husband, already a regular blood and bone marrow donor, if he would be willing to donate his kidney. He agreed: under one condition: he must be a match for her.
Not only was he a compatible match, but a perfect one. A match like that only happens 25 percent of the time between siblings with the same parents, so it’s even rarer in general public cases. He had never even seen Christina. “Our genes were so perfect of a match, they thought we were related,” Palacios said.They finally met Christmas Eve, where their children played together.
“Raul’s daughter came up to me and said, “My daddy’s your hero! He’s your Christmas present!” I had to keep it together, because I just wanted to burst out crying. It’s just so much,” Olivarez mentioned. “I knew I couldn’t back out.
She has kids too and deserves to spend time with them,” Palacios explained. “Everyone is telling me I’m a hero. I’m not a hero. I’m just a servant of God. I’m doing what I think is right. She needs to be with her children.”
The operation is scheduled next Wednesday. The Olivarez family is having a benefit plate sale to help Raul and his family with expenses. It takes place February 2, 2013, 12590 Southton Rd. on the deep Southside, 12 p.m-6 p.m. For more information call Johnny Olivarez at (210) 744-1468.
Amanda Lozano is an intern at La Prensa de San Antonio. She may be reached at email@example.com .