A Beautiful Life and Legacy

By: Lori Hartwell

A Beautiful Life and Legacy - organ donor
I am just incredibly touched by Raquel Gonzalez’s courageous story. I admire so much how upon the death of her beautiful, teen-age daughter Brittany, she was able to take a heartbreaking situation and turn it into an inspirational legacy.

Raquel works tirelessly as an organ donation ambassador for the National Organ Donation Registry. Her efforts earned her the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama in 2016. She has also worked with RSN as a volunteer driver for the Renal Teen Prom. Through all of her volunteering activities, Raquel has inspired many to become organ donors. I am honored to share this excerpt from Raquel’s tribute to Brittany. –Lori Hartwell
A Beautiful Life and Legacy - organ donorI moved to California in 1991 with my 3-year-old daughter Brittany. She had such a carefree, loving, and fun personality, and anyone who met her loved her instantly. After graduating high school, Brittany went to visit family in Slidell, LA and decided to stay. She had a new job and a new car. She was really loving life and having a great time; she met her boyfriend Joe and was making lots of friends. Eventually, she decided to move back home to Torrance. But before that could happen, Britt had been in a terrible car accident and sustained a very bad head injury, along with a punctured lung and broken ribs. She was determined brain dead due to a blood clot to her lung, which caused lack of oxygen to her brain, and there was nothing further they could do. She was not ever going to wake up. She was on ventilator support. Brittany died on April 9, 2008.I remember being brought into a small little room and her doctor and another lady were there and they started talking about allowing Brittany to be an organ donor. She was young and healthy. Of course, if I had to make that decision, I know I would have consented, but I am so very grateful that Brittany had already made that decision for herself. It is not a decision any parent should ever have to make. I am so proud of my daughter!Several weeks after Brittany’s death, I received a letter from LOPA (Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency)

  • Brittany’s left kidney and pancreas was given to a 43 year old father of one.
  • Brittany’s right kidney was given to a 45 year old woman who is single with one child and was on the waiting list for 7 years.
  • Brittany’s liver was given to a 46 year old husband and father of one child.
  • Brittany’s gift had the ability to help up to 50 people.


A Beautiful Life and Legacy - organ donorI am proud to say that my daughter saved lives and improved the quality of life for many others and their families. I believe it is one of the most unselfish gifts anyone can give.
Anyone can choose to request that their organs and tissues be donated at the time of death. It is important to indicate your desire to be a donor by registering with the DMV or going to the Donate Life California website and sign up.


A Beautiful Life and Legacy - organ donor A Beautiful Life and Legacy - organ donor A Beautiful Life and Legacy - organ donor

Raquel’s President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama in 2016

A Beautiful Life and Legacy - organ donorRaquel Gonzalez is a wife, mom, human resources manager and friend. She is the Donate Life Regional Ambassador Lead South LA County at OneLegacy. Raquel’s “Team Dragonfly” will be attending the DonateLife run walk on April 29th.

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