Guerra's gift of life comforts grieving family

Feb. 22 fire claimed lives of 6 family members

On February 22, one of the worst deadly fires in recent history claimed the lives of all six members of an east side family.
 
Compounding their grief, the family of Leo, Brandy Mae, Esteban, Blanquita, Miranda and Fuentes Guerra had a difficult decision to make: Whether or not to approve organ donation for their deceased loved ones.
 
Following the fire, the family's pastor, A.J. Corrales, said they quickly learned about organ donation through the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization (IOPO).
 
"In the midst of such pain and such great loss, to have the time and the mind to think how others could benefit from this was absolutely just amazing," said Corrales.
 
At first, the family found it difficult to consider. But, they made a group decision for donation.
 
"I was happy. In that way, my heart was not as heavy as it was, because I thought of other people that were going to live," said Isabel Guerra, Leo Guerra's mother.
 
 
"I was totally floored, you know, it just sent chills through my body to know that we were able to help so many people with that decision that we had to make," said Leo's sister, Isabel Castro.
 
Steve Johnson, chief operating officer for IOPO, said the family's gift can't be overstated.
 
"This family's gift, and the love this family has shown through this donation, will be felt in the families that are recipients for years and years to come," Johnson said.
 
There is still pain for the family – but also a feeling of joy.
 
"If I can one day meet someone where Fuentes or Miranda's heart is beating and giving that person life … that's a blessing," said Sandra Lopez, Leo's sister.
 
And because of the donation, there is a feeling that Leo, Brandy Mae and their children are not completely gone.
 
"My son, my daughter-in-law, my grandkids are gone, but a piece of them is still here," said Isabel Guerra.
 
There are currently 1,500 people on the waiting list for organ donation in Indiana, according to IU Health transplant nephrologist Dr. Tim Taber. Because of the Guerras, nearly a dozen people were given the chance to get off that list and get back to living.
 
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