A GIFT OF LIFE & LOVE: Tragic death turns into a life-saving transplant

News-Bulletin | by Julia M. Dendinger

Everyone loves a love story.

Jonathan Madrid always wanted to help his friend’s ailing father. No one ever expected his help would be realized from his death.

This one doesn’t feature a sweeping crescendo of violins or a passionate kiss in the rain, but it is about love of the purest kind — the love between friends, a love that transcends even death.

When Willie Martinez called John Madrid on Friday, Aug. 14, he had already heard the bad news. Early that morning, John’s 18-year-old son, Jonathan Paul "Ribs" Madrid, 18, had died.

thought he was going to ask me to be an usher or something," Martinez said. "I didn’t really understand why he was calling."

Instead, John told him it was the family’s wish that Martinez be the recipient of something that would literally save his live. Jonathan was an organ donor and Martinez was losing his four-year battle with liver disease — the family wanted Martinez’s transplant to come from Jonathan.

"At first it was stunning, wow. It is such a great and wonderful thing. It’s an honor," said Martinez, 51, in a phone interview on Monday. "The thing about it is, I think our town and county need to hear this; it may open other folks eyes to the fact that good things do happen in our county.

"John is a heck of a man, that guy. The whole family, they are legitimate, good people. I don’t know what more to say." Continue reading