Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Stories of Inspiration - "BJ"


"BJ" had a smile that was contagious and a heart that was bigger than he was. The youngest of five brothers, he was a gentle giant at 6’3”. BJ loved music, but football was his passion. His favorite team was the Oakland Raiders. There is no doubt that BJ would have made it to college playing football, said his mother, Marilyn, and his dream was to play professionally.

On Halloween night in 2005, 14-year-old BJ went trick-or-treating with family members. The next morning, he woke up for school but complained of being dizzy and said his head hurt. When he fell down, his mother called 911, and he was rushed to the hospital. After an emergency craniotomy, BJ was put on a ventilator for 7 days, but tests revealed that he was brain dead. Knowing this, his family made the decision to remove the ventilator surrounded by his family and friends.

What was not known until after his death was that BJ was born with an arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal connection between artery and vein in his brain that caused a cerebral hemorrhage.

Through BJ’s death, he gave life to 4 other people with the donation of his heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. And his high school retired his jersey number, 58, at the home game dedicated to BJ on the night of his organ donation surgery.

His mother, Marilyn, is a strong supporter of organ donation and routinely shares BJ's story to encourage organ donation registration especially within the Pacific Islander community.

You have the power to SAVE lives.  Register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor
Go to:   |   Social Media Declaration: #OrganDonor
To ensure your gift is honored, share your donation wishes with family and friends