On Nov. 13, 2011, Jorge A. Fernandez collapsed near the finish line at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio 1/2 Marathon. Fernandez, 32, died later that day.
Originally from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Fernandez settled and remained in San Antonio. He joined the U.S. Air Force and served two tours in Iraq. He became the first person in his family to graduate from college when he earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Tech University.
Fernandez worked as a registered nurse in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital. He was a strong advocate of education, exercise and healthy living. His family says he lived his life to serve others.
Maria Gloria Fernandez, his mother, said her son inspired her to work less and enjoy life. “He taught me that things happen for a reason, and, at the end of the day, everything would turn out fine. He is a treasure in my life,” she said. “His goal was to help anyone in his path whether he knew them or not.”
In death, Fernandez’s legacy of service and giving to others continues through tissue donation. To date, those who have benefited from his gifts include: a 33-year-old male from Spokane, Wash.; a 30-year-old male from Chesterfield, Mo; a 19-year-old male from Chicago, Ill.; a 92-year-old male and a 61-year-old male. The tissues transplanted thus far have enhanced the mobility of others or saved lives.
Fernandez’s story was selected and sponsored by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) to be included on the 2014 Donate Life Rose Parade Float on New Year’s Day. The theme of this year’s float is “Light Up the World,” which provides the perfect setting for the powerful message of saving and enhancing lives through the gift of organ and tissue donation.
UT Health Science Center Allograft Resources is hosting the official unveiling of his floragraph memorial portrait at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in Lecture Hall 309L on campus. At the event, his family will add the finishing touches to the floragraph, which is a floral memorial portrait. The floragraph will then travel to Pasadena, Calif., where it will be placed on the 2014 Donate Life Rose Parade Float.
Allograft Resources supports local and national tissue donation as well as recovery and distribution needs. The organization also offers bereavement services, such as support groups and memorial events, to donor families and the general public.
Michelle Ramirez, bereavement coordinator for Allograft Resources, said it is a huge honor for Fernandez to be chosen by the AATB, an organization which regulates all tissue banks.
“We hope his story will be an inspiration for others to make the decision to register as organ, tissue and cornea donors. Registering as a donor is a decision made now that saves and enhances the lives of others at the end of yours,” Ramirez said.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 29,000 graduates. The $765 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.