Family of organ recipient attends funeral of donor who saved his life

A New Jersey woman whose organs were donated after her death last week had special mourners at her funeral -- the family of one of the people whose lives she saved. 

Ivonne Martinez Rivera, 41, of Kearny, died July 20, several days after she suffered a brain aneurysm, according to WABC in New York. Her family, which included her husband and three children, decided to have her removed from life support when doctors determined that there was nothing more they could do for her.

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Rivera’s heart, kidney and liver were donated to two different people, WABC reported. Her husband, Andy Rivera, told the news station that organ donation was in line with his wife’s personality. 

“My wife is the type of person who will help anybody, whether or not she knows you,” Rivera said. “She feels content helping other people.”

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The family of one of the recipients, Eli Guzman, 35, of Roselle, decided to repay Ivonne Rivera’s kindness by attending her funeral Tuesday night in her native Newark. 

“I consider her my hero,” Guzman’s brother, Misael Guzman, told WABC

Eli Guzman received Rivera’s kidney and liver the day after she was removed from life support. He remained in the hospital this week, recovering from surgery.

“God has shown us a way of bringing two families together in love and kindness,” Eli Guzman told the news station. “We thank the Rivera family for the decisions they’ve made.”

The funeral service for Ivonne Rivera, who worked as a nurse for the elderly, was packed with mourners, WABC reported. Social media was also filled with love from her family and friends, who prayed for a miracle as she fought for her life. 

Andy Rivera told WABC he wants the couple’s children, including their 18-month-old daughter, to know that their mother’s spirit lives on in other people. He said he would like to meet the person who received his wife’s heart.

“So I can at least put the baby on her heartbeat, the baby can hear her mother’s heartbeat through somebody else,” Andy Rivera said. 

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