‘Part of Joe will live on’: 2 people receive corneas from husband who died from grief after wife killed in Uvalde

Family ensures Joe Garcia’s decision as an organ donor was honored

SAN ANTONIO – The husband of one of the teachers killed in the Uvalde school shooting who suddenly died two days later is being called a donor hero.

Joe Garcia and his wife, Irma, were laid to rest together on Wednesday. Garcia died of a broken heart over her tragic death, family members said.

Garcia’s family honored his decision to help patients in need.

He was a registered organ donor and he had his corneas recovered to help two people who needed a cornea transplant.

“Two individuals will be able to see again, will be able to go back to their families, live that full life, and a part of Joe will live on through them,” said Simera Nichols of the San Antonio Eye Bank.

The first patient received the transplant on Tuesday and the other received it on Thursday.

Dr. Kenneth Maverick, the surgeon who conducted the second surgery, said the outpatient procedure is very successful.

“We basically transplant someone who’s passed on their cornea to somebody who needs a new cornea because their cornea is not clear,” Maverick said. “It usually takes about 30 or 40 minutes.”

There are an estimated 12 million people suffering from corneal blindness around the world and Maverick hopes Joe Garcia’s story is one that will inspire others to donate.

“This is just a ray of light in a very dark time, but the human spirit lives on and the ultimate sacrifice is organ donation.”

If you are interested in being an organ donor you can register at donateLIFEtexas.org. To learn more about cornea transplantation, visit saeyebank.org.


About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

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