Family members of late Newark High School student meet recipients of her organs
Published: Wednesday, June 09, 2010, 7:48 PM
"No matter what, she’d be there for you," a friend said.
And even though 17-year-old Maria Pomavilla of Newark died in April after a hit-and-run accident, her brother Huascar said their parents wanted to continue her spirit of giving. They donated her kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and heart.
Pomavilla was honored today by her East Side High School classmates during an emotional senior awards ceremony during which her family finally met a man who received her heart and a woman who received her liver.
Pomavilla, who would have graduated this month, and her brother didn’t talk about organ donation, but both had lessons in their East Side High School health class about the process as part of the state’s Hero Act. The act requires all high schools to make sure that organ and tissue donation is part of this school year’s curriculum.
An NJ Sharing Network representative who coordinates organ donation and was at the hospital when Pomavilla was injured said her brother was crucial in making the decision.
"I had mixed feelings about it," said Huascar Pomavilla, 16, as he stuffed his hands inside his pockets, of donating his sister’s organs. "We never talked about it, but I knew this is what she would have done."
Pomavilla was walking home from her part-time job on April 17 when she was struck by a vehicle near Warwick and Adams streets in the city’s Ironbound district. Investigators are still searching for the driver, said Kathy Carter, a spokeswoman with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and no arrests have been made.
"It’s a beautiful thing because she shared her life with someone else," said Knox, 45, of Irvington. "God gave the family the will to do that."
Knox’s doctor said he suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition where his heart muscle weakened, enlarging his heart and preventing it from pumping blood properly.
Knox, who alongside his family and another organ recipient met Pomavilla’s family in a classroom before the ceremony, said he thanked her parents.
"I feel as though I’m a part of them now," he said, adding that he plans to stay in touch with them.
Suzanne Gonzalez, 43, of Brick suffered from cirrhosis, and had been in liver failure for a year before she received Maria’s healthy organ.
‘I’m amazed. I’m still preparing to live again," said Gonzalez after the ceremony.
Students and teachers paid tribute to Pomavilla, who received a senior award for student achievement. A video montage was shown with pictures of Maria standing in the school halls, smiling with friends and hugging her brother.
"She’s here, but she’s not with me," said Huascar. "I’m glad they are alive. I’m glad she did it for them. She is my hero."