A NAVY dad has tragically saluted his “hero” baby boy goodbye, before his organs are donated to live the lives of three other people.
One-year-old Leopauld was left brain-dead following a devastating crash in California, when his father, Lemoore Navy veteran Paul Sanchez was driving his family-of-four home.
He was rushed to hospital, where doctors found he suffered severe brain injuries and his skull had been detached from his spine.
Sanchez told ABC 7 that doctors said Leopauld wouldn’t survive, after he flatlined twice.
"But I told him, we believe in miracles," Sanchez said.
The little boy needed intensive surgery, which the family was told would not be attempted by most hospitals.
Sanchez said doctors told him Leopauld’s state was so fragile that he likely wouldn’t survive, if shifted to another facility.
But weeks later, Valley Children's Hospital agreed to undertake the surgery.
Leopauld showed signs of improvement after the surgery, with his eyes finally opening, but his health began to decline again, soon after.
PART OF LEOPAULD TO LIVE ON
Several tests determined the little boy was brain dead.
His devastated family had no choice but to pull the plug.
They knew, however, that their little boy’s death wouldn’t be in vain; Leopauld Sanchez's organs will go to a 6-month-old boy, a 3-month-old girl and an adult.
"He is a miracle to these three individuals that have been asking for miracles," Sanchez said.
The family said that little Leopauld would live through the recipients.
The deadly crash happened when the family was driving just outside Kettleman City, in California in November last year.
Another driver swerved into Sanchez’ lane, crashing head-on into his minivan.
Everyone was left disoriented from the impact, but Leopauld was unresponsive.
Leopauld and his eight-year-old brother were airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center for medical attention, where the two boys and their parents underwent surgery.
Sanchez was now in a wheelchair. His surviving relatives’ injuries were not known.
Sanchez told his son he was “proud” of him as he kissed his forehead in a farewell.
"You're a hero son, you're a hero," he said.
Sanchez hoped his son’s memory would live on, through the recipients of his organs.
"We know that a part of our son will still live," said Sanchez.
He also hoped his son’s sacrifice would inspire others to become donors.
A GoFundMe page had been set up by the family, to help with medical expenses as they recovered.
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