18-year-old organ donor saves 5 lives after her death


EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — A Texas 18-year-old who died last year has saved the lives of five people with her donated organs.

Alysha Garza’s stepfather, Ramon Vargas, said organ donation was something she supported, but it was difficult for mother Genevieve Vargas to accept that decision initially.

“First, I am her mother. So for them to take all my baby’s organs is something that I didn’t want, something that I just wanted her whole,” said Genevieve Vargas, whose daughter was fatally shot in June 2020.

Although Alysha’s mother did not want to proceed with the organ donation, she later decided it was something her daughter would have wanted.

She said the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance helped them every step of the way during the hospitalization.

“Our tragedy became a blessing for others,” she said.

According to the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, a total of 28 people in the Rio Grande Valley became organ donors last year.

The Alliance said Alysha’s organ donation — which includes her heart, kidneys, liver and a lung — helped save five lives.

“During a time of great sorrow, you honored Alysha by continuing her legacy as an organ donor, saving the lives of others,” Adriana Almanza, manager of Donor Family Services, wrote in a letter on behalf of the alliance.

The alliance gave the family a special medial “as a tribute to honor your loved one,” Almanza wrote.

“We as a family, we call our daughter a hero because she is a hero to us,” said Genevieve Vargas.

The family has not yet met the recipients of Alysha’s organs, and they are unsure when the day will come.

“My reaction would be to give them a hug because it would be like hugging my daughter again,” said Ramon Vargas. “A piece of her lives inside them.”

Alysha’s parents said their daughter has given them a different perspective and a new purpose in life.

“You don’t know how many people are on a list for so long, waiting and waiting for a transplant,” said Genevieve Vargas.

Her parents are sharing their experience in the hope that it inspires others to become organ donors as well.

“I don’t wish this on anybody, you know the pain we go through daily, of all the things, of not having my daughter here,” Genevieve Vargas said. “It’s a pain daily, but we know we have that sense of peace knowing that she still lives on.”

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