The organ recipients of the late Chicago boxer Francisco "Paco" Rodriguez are living healthy lives as they carry on the brave legacy of the former Golden Gloves champion.
Rodriguez's heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and a kidney gave new life to four women from Philadelphia and Baltimore, and his second kidney went to his uncle, Ramon Tejeda of Chicago. All five did well with their new replacements, and upon learning about Paco's sacrifice and each other, the women came together with his widowed wife and toddler daughter to celebrate his life.
Paco suffered trauma to his head which led to a brain bleed during a Friday night fight for the USBA super bantamweight title at Philadelphia's Blue Horizon on November 20, 2009. He was rushed to the nearby Hahnemann University Hospital after the referee stopped the fight in the 10th round, but surgery to stop the bleeding proved unsuccessful and Paco died in the hospital two days later.
"I had asked him to stop fighting," said his wife Sonia. "But he kept on telling me that was his life, boxing."
Paco had previously told Sonia that should anything happen to him, she should donate his organs so that others may live. Paco never signed an organ donor card, but when it came time to make a decision following his death, Sonia contacted the Gift of Life organ donor organization and signed the consent to pass on his organs to others in need.
Today, both Paco's family and his organ recipents are vowed supporters of organ donation. Sonia hopes that her daughter will someday learn of her father's legacy and heroics.