A South Bay family whose tragic loss turned into life for others was able to honor their deceased loved one in a special way Wednesday night in front of thousands.
David Rivera died from a brain bleed caused by a rare clotting disorder.
Sandra De La Torre calls Rivera’s heart donation a beautiful gift of life.
For 15 years, De la Torre struggled with heart disease.
“I became deathly ill and I was tired. Deathly tired,” said the South Bay mother.
Thanks to Lifesharing, the 58-year-old now has 30-year-old Rivera's heart and a long life left to live.
The transplant allowed her to do the unthinkable in 2018, including crossing the finish line at the San Diego Heart and Stroke Walk.
“Every day is precious. Every day I laugh. Every day I enjoy every moment and everything,” said De La Torre.
Back in April we shared how De La Torre met Rivera’s family for the first time at Lifesharing in Mission Valley.
And how De La Torre gifted Rivera’s now 5-year-old son a teddy bear with an E-K-G recording of his father's heartbeat.
“He’s going to come to realize his dad is a hero,” she said.
Since the first encounter, Rivera’s family and De La Torre have grown close, enjoying family barbecues together and Rivera’s birthday last month.
“We have this bond because she has a piece of me in her that brought back her life,” said Rivera’s mother, Susan Amador.
On Wednesday night they shared another memory together. De La Torre watched as Rivera’s fiancée threw out the honorary first pitch before the Padres’ game. The team celebrated Donate Life Night.
“It’s truly been a miracle for me,” said De La Torre. “It truly has been a miracle for me to be alive. I owe it all to God and the gift of donation.”
De La Torre says she can actually feel Rivera’s spirit. While she was quiet and introverted, Rivera was outgoing and brought people together.
She says since the transplant she's been a social butterfly, ready to get people together.
Rivera’s organ and tissue donation helped save five lives after his death.
Lifesharing helps coordinate all organ donations in San Diego. They say there are more than 2,000 people in the county in need of a life-saving organ.
Last month NBC 7 shared the story of a North County mother who was able to celebrate her late daughter thanks to Lifesharing.