Pinole teenager moves from deathbed to major league mound.
Only a few weeks before his 16th birthday, he knew that he might never realize his dream of boxing, attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and then serving in the military like his two older brothers.
About 24 hours later, a 21-year-old man from Sacramento died. His liver saved Alfonso's life.
Now, on Wednesday afternoon Alfonso will throw out the first pitch at the San Francisco Giants game. In younger days he hoped to be part of a legendary triad, playing professionally with his brothers on the Giants.
"I've been a Giants fan since I was born, really," he said. "I dreamed, you know how kids do: the three Garcia brothers playing for the Giants."
Now his brother, Oscar, 25, is at a U.S. Naval base in Naples, Italy. His brother, Danilo, 23, is a three-time National Collegiate Boxing Association champion, has graduated from West Point and will serve five years in the army.
Because of the twice-daily medication that he must take for the rest of his life, Alfonso, a senior atSaint Mary's College High School in Berkeley — which his brothers also attended — can't serve in the military. He isn't sure what he'll pursue academically.
"I'm looking into what college I'm going to go to now, and what major," he said.
He does know that an important part of his future will be speaking to groups about the plight he endured
"Right now my only dream is to get the word out about organ donation."
He's doing so now as an Ambassador for the California Transplant Donor Network, which arranged his pending presence appearance on the baseball diamond.
"I mainly focus on talking to teenagers right now," he said. "I think I can relate to them because this happened to me when I was a teenager. They need to know that this isn't something that happens only to people who are older. It can happen to anyone at any time."
He didn't know that all his life, Wilson's disease had allowed copper to slowly accumulate in his liver. Suddenly he got a fever, felt tired and sick. He became jaundiced.
"I was just a normal teenager, boxing and playing guitar," he said about life before the illness.
"It's a rare disease," he said. "Both of your parents have to have the chromosome. You lack a protein that binds together and gets rid of copper."
Alfonso spent time in hospitals in Richmond, Santa Clara and the University of California at San Francisco. Even after the transplant, he had four or five hospital stays for about three months, he said.
He has tried to contact the liver donor's family, but he has not yet heard from them. He'd like to try again in the future, but he dosen't want to pressure them. He had seen his own family nearly experience losing him at a young age.
"I know how hard it must be to lose your 21-year-old son," he said. "I saw that sorrow in my mother's eyes."
In contrast to facing seeming mortality in a matter of hours when he was 15, now Alfonso is watching the clock with an entirely emotion.
"I'm excited," he said about Wednesday's Giants-Dodgers game. "I'm counting down the hours."
Wednesday is the 14th Annual Organ Donor Awareness Day, in which the San Francisco Giants and the California Transplant Donor Network team up. The network, a federally-designated agency, reports that more than 21,000 people in California are on a waiting list for an organ.
Anyone can sign up to be donor here or when getting or renewing a driver's license or state identification card. For more information call the network at 888-570-9400 or visit www.ctdn.org.