Gift of Life: Brotherly love

- It has been two years since Omar Santiago passed away, but his legacy lives on through the lives he inspired and the lives he saved.

To his brother, Carlos, Omar's death still feels like yesterday. 

"I don't know if it will ever not be new because of the amount of closeness that we had especially after our mother passed away," Carlos remarked on the feeling.

After Carlos and Omar's mom died of cancer in 1998, the brothers grew closer-- becoming best friends.

"It was just him and I. We did everything and anything together," Carlos remembered, "Him and my daughter were very very close. They did a lot of things together." 

Carlos knows that life will never be the same without his little brother, but he tries to fill the void with memories of Omar's laughter and smile.
 
"I hear it sometimes in my dreams," Carlos said, "when I wake up from a good dream." 

But Carlos is able to find peace, knowing that his brother's death helped give others life.

Omar was an organ donor. He gave his heart, his liver, his kidneys, his eyes, his bone marrow and tissue to complete strangers-- saving several lives. 
 
"I'm very proud of my brother. I was proud of him already, but what better way to leave a lasting legacy than to give your life for others to benefit from. That's huge. What a selfless act," said Carlos.

But the one thing that helped Carlos heal the most was an unexpected letter.

He received a letter from the daughter of the man who got Omar's kidney. Carlos has read it so many times that he's memorized every word.
 
"I just don't have words to tell you how much I am thankful for what you have given to my father. I will always be so grateful for your angel and to his family for the gift of life," Carlos recited.

And that note is what inspired Carlos to not only become an organ donor but to also volunteer for "Life Link", a non-profit group dedicated to the recovery of life-saving and life-enhanching organs and tissue.

There are so many things Carlos would say to his brother if he only had the chance.  He would tell him he is loved, he is missed, and that his legacy lives on.

Carlos shared words he hopes his brother can still somehow hear: "I would tell him that I'm very grateful to have had you, to experience life the way I did with you. And I'm honored for this amazing lesson I got to learn from him on his way out. Thank you for humbling me." 

 

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