Family who lost 6 family members in fire, gives gift of life to others

(WISH photo/John LeSage)
(WISH photo/John LeSage)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A family in grief has found some good in a terrible tragedy.  Six members of the Guerra Family died in a fire that destroyed their Indianapolis home on Saturday, February 22.  Now, in the wake of the family’s deaths, nearly a dozen strangers are getting new life.

“We’re sad because of the loss, but I myself, it feels good to know that his heart is going to keep beating in someone else’s life,” Sandra Lopez said. She, along with her sister and brother Blanca and Gilbert Guerra, say the decision to donate organs and tissue from their perished brother Leo Guerra’s family was straight forward.

“My brother said he always wanted to make a mark, leave his mark.  That’s exactly what he did.  He left a legacy and gave the gift of life,” Blanca Guerra told 24-Hour News 8.

Six members of the Guerra family died in the Olney Street fire.  Two of the children,14-year-old Miranda and 6- year-old Fuentes died of smoke inhalation. They were brain dead, but their hearts were still beating.

“We were able to recover six organs and save the lives of six different people from one of the children and save the lives of five other people from one of the other children,” Kellie Hanner, President and CEO of the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization said.

Hanner says tissue donated by the children’s mother, 33-year-old Brandy Mae Guerra, will potentially improve the lives of 75 people.  The need for organs, she says, is great.

“Currently there is over 1,500 people waiting for life-saving transplants in the state of Indiana.  And over 120,000 people waiting nationally,” Hanner said.

The agony of waiting is familiar to the Guerra family.  A nephew with cystic fibrosis was on the organ procurement list.

“One lung collapsed and we were waiting for a transplant. But through the wait, the second lung collapsed and we lost him.,” Gilbert Guerra told 24-Hour News 8.

If you want to become an organ donor, you can do so when you renew your drivers license, or you can go to the IOPO website and register.

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