For a bereft mother, strength comes from children saved

first_imgErica Rangel is usually alone when she visits her son’s grave after work each day, but Thursday was special. She brought along a bouquet of fresh flowers and a 10-year-old girl named Patty Sanchez. Patty is one of five children, ages 2 to 15, who received Frankie’s organs after he died two years ago from a brain aneurysm at age 9. Juan Perez, 11, of Bakersfield has Frankie’s heart, and another boy has his liver. Two girls have his kidneys, and Patty has his bowels. Erica hasn’t met them all, but she hopes to one day. She wants to meet all five of the children who are alive today because of her son. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los AngelesFrankie would have turned 11 on Saturday, and his family and friends are throwing him a big birthday bash at the baseball diamond at Fernangeles park, 8851 Laurel Canyon Blvd., in Sun Valley. Frankie loved baseball and starred as pitcher, catcher and shortstop for his youth team, the Bums. His pals plan to honor his memory with a daylong tournament with three other teams to raise money for OneLegacy, a leading organ- and tissue-donor organization. At the end of the day, after the trophies are handed out, Patty and Juan will step to the microphone to talk about what Frankie means to them. They’ll ask everyone to please look deep into their hearts and consider becoming an organ donor, giving someone else a chance at life. It will be the second time Erica has met Juan. The first was in June in Kentucky, where the boy was participating in the Transplant Olympics. He had gone from being a bedridden youngster who couldn’t walk more than a few feet to running the 50-yard dash – a feat accomplished because of Frankie’s heart. Erica introduced herself to Juan and his parents, then asked if she could put her ear against his chest. She wanted to hear Frankie’s heart beat. “That moment made everything right for me,” Erica said Thursday. “My son had saved five lives. He had made a difference.” There is no way any parent can be prepared for that agonizing moment of decision, she says. It’s one thing to agree to be an organ donor yourself, but this was her 9-year-old son they were talking about. “Then I thought: Did I want any mother to go through what I was going through? No, I didn’t. So I said yes.” Erica and Patty’s mother, also named Patty, didn’t talk much the first time they met last November. They were too busy hugging and crying, Erica says. Later, she would hear how 10-year-old Patty had to drop out of school after first grade to be home-schooled. The little girl had just felt too out of place walking around school with a feeding tube in her throat, allowing her to survive the abdominal disease that destroyed her intestines shortly after her birth. Now she could return to school and be just like every other kid, eating normally. All thanks to Frankie. That’s why she wanted to come along with her mother and Erica to visit his grave site Thursday. To say thank you in person. While she did, Erica put fresh flowers on Frankie’s grave and opened the journal she writes in every day. She talks to Frankie while she writes, telling him if it’s been a good or a bad day, whether she’s been happy or depressed. Thursday was a good day, she wrote in her journal. And Saturday would be even better. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. [email protected] (818) 713-3749 How to help For information on becoming an organ donor, call OneLegacy at (800) 786-4077 or see local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img