After 2 decades of kidney disease and several years of dialysis, Gloria received the gift of life through a paired kidney exchange.
Lillian "Lily" Rodriguez's death was unexpected and devastating, but her family finds some peace in knowing that she blessed others with the gift of life.
Lily was a “miracle child” to parents, Alexandra and Lisandro, who had been told they were unlikely to ever have a child. In spite of the naysayers, Lily was born into the world and was immediately a bright light and a treasure to her family. She matured into a beautiful young woman, strong-willed, confident, and honest. By the time she was 16, she was working in the restaurant at an assistance living community and was beloved by the residents as a polite, courteous, and respectful staff member. She was very artistically talented and was studying tattoo arts, had bought a tattoo gun, and had even given her mother a few tattoos. She was embraced by her large extended and blended family, including her three brothers and five step-siblings, and she had her eyes on a future that excited her.
Lily’s loss was extremely sudden and unexpected, triggered by an asthma attack at home. Her family ranged from disbelief to devastation and every other emotion imaginable. Faced with the loss of Lily, her parents learned about a conversation that she’d had with her aunt. Sometime before her death, Lily had told her aunt that should anything ever happen to her, she would want to donate her organs. Hearing this made Lily’s end-of-life decisions easier for Alexandra and Lisandro, knowing what their daughter would have wanted. It made sense to them, Lily had blessed so many people in her life that she would certainly choose to bless people in her death.
On November 23, 2022, Lily saved the lives of four people through the donations of her heart, liver, and two kidneys. And while the healing process continues for her family, they are finding comfort in knowing that she lives on. In their hearts and memories, yes. But also through the gifts of life she gave. Lily’s mom shares, “I received a letter from the mother of Lily’s liver recipient. Her son was going to die if he hadn’t received Lily’s liver. Doctors had told him his was a ‘ticking time bomb.’ I’m very grateful and so happy that his mother didn’t lose her child.”
Lily’s family works hard to honor her and keep her memory alive. They think of her constantly – playing the music she loved and sharing stories with her nieces and nephews about the dimpled smiles, infectious laugh, deep generosity, and irrepressible spirit of this lovely girl whose mom called her “Mookie.” They like to remember her doing her favorite thing – driving around with her parents, listening to music. And each year, they’ll have a big party on her birthday – April 27 – where they celebrate her life and the life that still goes on.
Alexandra can’t tell Lily’s story without emphasizing, “I am very proud of Lillian. I was proud of her in life, and I’ll always be proud of her.”