Jorge Gonzalez was handsome, humorous, a good student, and a hard worker. But what distinguished Jorge most was his heart of gold. During his first college semester, Jorge was in a horrific car accident and spent nearly four months in a coma. During this time, his family spent every waking moment with him, celebrating all holidays and family birthdays, including his own. Finally, on March 18, 2003, Jorge was pronounced brain dead at age 19. Three years later, the Gonzalez family met Jorge's heart recipient, Mark Reagan, who will ride the 2013 Donate Life float in Jorge's honor. They all agree that the most special part was getting to hear Jorge's heart beat again. "Jorge's heart was special, and Mark is the perfect person to receive his heart," said Jorge's mother. "The joy that Mark has brought to our family made us realize that Jorge still lives within us."
Born in Nicaragua, Jorge Gonzalez grew up in Miami, Fla. He was handsome, humorous, a good student and a hard worker. He loved watching and playing sports and was always involved with the community, especially with local programs such as Best Buddies and Peace Ambassadors. But what distinguished Jorge above all else was his heart of gold. He was a genuine, caring, and loving friend, brother and son.
During his first semester of college, Jorge was in a horrific car accident on the way home from his girlfriend Gema's house. He was airlifted to the hospital, where he remained in a coma for nearly four months. During this time his family spent every waking moment with him. "He never regained consciousness, but we never lost hope," said his mother Magaly. They celebrated all the holidays and family birthdays in the hospital by Jorge's bedside.
On March 18, 2003, Jorge was pronounced brain dead at the age of 19. "It was a very sad time for us," said his sister Lucia. "We could not believe this was happening, but at least he held on to that last breath until it felt like the right moment for us. Everything happens for a reason. God knew we needed these four months to prepare ourselves for what He already knew was going to happen. Jorge belonged to Him, but He let us keep Jorge for a little while longer."
After learning about organ donation in the hospital, Jorge's parents knew that is what Jorge would have wanted. Several months later, the Gonzalez family heard from several organ recipients, apologizing for their loss and thanking them for another chance at life. The most touching letter was from Jorge's heart recipient, Mark Reagan, who will ride the 2013 Donate Life float in Jorge's honor. Three years later, in January 2006, both families finally met. There was immediate chemistry, but they all agree that the most special part was getting to hear Jorge's heart beat again.
"Jorge's heart was special and Mark is the perfect person to receive his heart. He is an amazing individual – charismatic, humorous, and full of love," said Magaly. "The gratitude of the Reagan family and the joy we see in their lives to have Mark with them is a constant reminder that we made the best decision in choosing donation. The joy that Mark has brought to our family made us realize that Jorge still lives within us. In fact, he is no longer Mark Reagan to us; he is now Marcos Reagan-Gonzalez."