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Retired Firefighter Finds Joy by Sharing About the Impact of Organ Donation

Firefighters often face dangerous situations in an effort to help others, and the physical requirements of the job can be extreme.

After 26 years as a firefighter, Cesar Alvarez’s knees were worn down and in need of surgery. Even after surgery, chronic pain remained. Eventually, medications prescribed to help ease his knee pain caused liver toxicity. Unable to continue his work as a firefighter, Cesar retired from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and moved to Peoria, Arizona.

After months of complete exhaustion, Cesar was diagnosed with end stage liver failure, added to the liver transplant list and referred to Mayo Clinic. Not long after his liver diagnosis, his kidney’s started to fail too.

A year later, however, Cesar received a liver transplant at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “When I awoke from my transplant, I instantly felt better. I was wide awake, super hungry and had so much energy. I wanted to get out of bed and run,” Cesar says. His transplant was successful, and he was subsequently removed from the kidney transplant list.

Each year Cesar celebrates his new life that is made possible because of his liver donor. "I have committed to paying my gift of life back by volunteering countless hours to Donate Life Arizona, the nonprofit federally funded organ procurement organization that saves lives through organ, eye and tissue donation,” Cesar says. “Volunteering with them makes me happy and brings me joy.”

Mayo Clinic is the largest integrated transplant provider in the United States, and our researchers and clinicians are focused on providing answers for patients.

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