SAN ANTONIO – Even in death, Apolinar Salazar saved lives.
The former Marine died earlier this month after a motorcycle accident, but his organs, including his heart, were donated to help save others.
"After he got out of the military in 2014 he sent me his ID card, that he had just gone back to renew, and he said, 'Look, veteran and organ donor,'" said Salazar's sister, Perla Obrajero.
Salazar survived five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. On July 18, his motorcycle hit a pickup truck causing severe trauma to his body. A few days later he was pronounced brain dead.
As doctors prepared his kidneys, liver, and pancreas for donation his sister asked about his heart.
"When I found out he couldn't donate his heart, I asked them, 'Are you sure there's nothing they can do? I know he would want this,'" Perla said. "Him being able to donate his heart was the part that meant the most."
Doctors obliged. A few hours later a recipient was found.
"That's just the type of person he was. He was always willing to help someone," said Johana Zermeno, Salazar's friend. "He gave up his life to join the Marine Corps and save people in that way, and even after death he was still able to save people."
For his family, the final gifts he was able to give to complete strangers give more meaning to the valiant life he led.
"His heart is going to continue to beat in somebody else's body," Perla said. "He's going to help somebody else out, which is what he did while he was alive."