Roman Reyes loved his jeep, playing soccer, working on computers, listening to music, cooking, and baking. He was a handy man – changing door knobs, fixing walls, replacing light fixtures, tile, electrical work, or anything else that needed to be repaired.
Roman died from a head injury he sustained on a quad in Rocky Point, Mexico, on July 17, 2004, the summer before his senior year of high school. Roman knew how to be a friend and kept all of his friends from kindergarten until the day he died. Even now, his friends meet on the anniversary of his death.
“At the hospital, a representative from Donor Network of Arizona came to talk with us about the possibility of saving lives through the gift of organ donation,” said Roman’s mother Lupita. “I told her ‘yes’ for three reasons: My son wanted to be an organ donor, a giver of life. I wanted my son’s wishes to save lives to come true. And I wanted at least part of my son to continue living.”
Roman was very giving and appreciated life. He wanted to save lives as a fireman. Instead, at 17 years old, he saved lives by sharing the gift of life. He donated his heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys and lungs. The Reyes family has been in contact with some of the recipients, a few of whom Lupita considers to be part of her family.
“It’s amazing how much Steve Bond, his heart recipient, and my son had in common. My son loved to cook, travel, collect Coca-Cola things and work on his computer and so does Steve. My son’s favorite thing was his jeep and Steve had just sold his jeep due to his heart condition,” said Lupita.
“Steve said the first thing he was craving after his heart transplant was Mexican food, which is when he realized that he had a Mexican heart. When Steve walks through my door, I feel like my son is walking in,” continued Lupita. “It gives me comfort when I see the recipients are doing well because I know that as long as they are alive, part of my son will still live on.”
Steve Bond will ride the Donate Life float along with his heart donor’s floragraph on New Year’s Day.
“Steve has also changed my life. He was a foster child and has shared some stories with me,“ said Lupita. “Then I started thinking that perhaps I should be a foster mom and help other children. It has been more than a year since my husband and I have been providing foster care for children. We have found the experience to be incredibly rewarding.”