Thursday, January 20, 2011
Joe Olivares Hernandez, the man beaten to death atTemple Nightclub, wanted to be a doctor to help save lives -- and he is managing to do just that a few weeks after he died.
Hernandez, a 30-year-old medical student at UCSF, had told his family he wanted to donate his organs. So when Hernandez died from a brain injury after being beaten at Temple on Jan. 9, his family gave San Francisco General Hospital -- where he had just done his medical training -- permission to harvest his organs before removing him from life support.
Hernandez's organs have already been transplanted into recipients in Northern and Central California, says SFGH spokeswoman Rachael Kagan.
"Joe was very healthy and wanted to save lives even in his death," his family said in a statement released by the hospital. "It was something that was important to him."
The hospital and the California Transplant Donor Network have highlighted the high-profile donation to increase awareness of the necessity of organ donation. One person's organs can save up to eight lives and improve the lives of 50 more with tissue donations, said Cathy Olmo, the network's manager of community development.
She says about 21,000 Californians are awaiting organ transplants.
But donors are rare. Last year, 10 patients at SFGH donated 48 organs. Hospital officials wouldn't say how many organs are being harvested from Hernandez, adding that while his family wants to help raise awareness, they don't want to give more details.
"It's all very new, and the funeral hasn't taken place," Kagan said.
At least Hernandez's tragedy has a bittersweet ending. You can sign up to be an organ donor here, or by telling the Department of Motor Vehicles you'd like to donate when renewing your license.