Palm Springs Boy Saved by Soldier's Kidney
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
A 12-year-old Palm Springs boy is alive today thanks to a man who was a hero both in life, and in death.
Ernesto Bravo Chavez says the man who donated his kidney is his hero forever.
Ernesto will be on the Donate Life Float at the Rose Parade to inspire others to become donors.
Now, Ernesto is a healthy, happy student in Palm Springs.
But seven years ago, his life hung in the balance, waiting for a kidney transplant.
"It was painful, it was hard for me and my family," said Chavez.
Gabriel Barajas served his country, an Iraq veteran who was part of the special forces team that captured Saddam Hussein.
Tragically he died in a car accident, but as an organ donor, he saved Ernesto's life.
"Gabe means like a hero to me," said Chavez.
Ernesto's and Gabriel's families met, and have become very close.
"We were happy, but sad for the family that lost one of their loved ones," said Ernesto's mother, Rosario Chavez Hernandez.
Ernesto's doctor from Loma Linda University Medical Center is overjoyed to see the family once again.
"This is a Christmas present, not only for them, but also for me. After seven years can see how healthy he is, and I can't recognize now the little guy that I treated about seven years ago," said Dr. Pedro Baron, a transplant surgeon at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
But many patients have to wait more than five years for transplants.
"We see every day our patients, waiting for organs, and die unfortunately because there are no organs available for these patients," said Dr. Baron.
Ernesto's mother encourages other people to consider becoming a donor.
"My son's life was very sad, but I hope people see this and realize they can give someone a life after they die," said Rosario.
And now Ernesto can play sports and go to school, all because of one man's gift of life.
"Well, I think they are heroes to everyone who donates them," said Chavez.
Gabriel is this family's hero, for his bravery in life and gift after death.
Loma Linda University Medical Center does about 120 kidney transplants a year-- many of those from deceased donors, but it is also possible to be a living donor.