Families celebrate gift of life on Christmas

San Diego Union Tribune | Pam Kragen

Inez Lontayo, 43, of Chula Vista is hugged by her mother, Rosemary Morales, a year after receiving a kidney and pancreas from an assault victim. — Peggy Peattie

San Diego — Christmas will never be the same for three women who have never met, but whose lives became forever intertwined last December by the gift of life.

Inez Lontayo and Kyrie Nuno were among six desperately ill people who got the call from UCSD Medical Center on Dec. 16, 2014, that the donor organs they’d long awaited would soon be available for transplant. But Lontayo and Nuno both say their excitement was tempered with the knowledge that somewhere a family was facing Christmas without the man who would change their lives.

That day — two days after 29-year-old San Diego architecture student Eric Galen Hatcher was left brain dead by an assault in the Gaslamp Quarter — his heartbroken family agreed to donate his organs. Continue reading