"Thank you for having me alive, and proud to be here."
PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Rose Parade preparations are well underway in Pasadena and Stanford Children's Health with a send off for Joseph Sanchez, the San Leandro teenager selected as the hospital's honoree to ride in its Rose float.
"Thank you for having me alive, and proud to be here," said Sanchez at a send-off event earlier this month.
"To us, it just means so much," said Elena Munoz, who has been by her son's side through it all.
"From seeing him battle to being here today, and now him being able to participate in such a big event as the Rose Parade is just unbelievable."
The honor coming on the heels of a reunion with one of Sanchez's surgeons earlier this year.
"Joe Joe, as we've affectionately called him over the years, he's been through a lot it's both a miracle in what he's been able to get through," said Michael Ma, MD., heart surgeon at Stanford Medicine Children's Health.
At just seven months old, Sanchez was diagnosed with cancer. Then, a liver transplant soon followed. Seven years later, he had a new kidney. And in 2023, he received a new heart.
"I don't think in our history we've ever done three sequential transplants like this. These are three of the most major organs that vital to a person's survival," said Dr. Ma
Munoz says as much as this is an honor for Sanchez, she wants the day to also highlight those who saved his life.
"This is to honor his life, but it's also to honor those three organ donor angels who saved his life each time and also for those people who are still waiting," she said, asking to share part of the speech she wrote for her son's send-off.
"Without the organ donor, there's no story, no hope, no transplant. But when there is an organ donor life springs from death, sorrow turns to hope, and a terrible loss becomes a gift. To me, that's what Joe Joe's journey has been."
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