The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

A tragedy becomes a blessing for child


March 14, 2019 | View PDF

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Dr. Jeffrey Pietz of Valley Children's Hospital with little Olivia Morales. Olivia was born with numerous complications.

Four-year-old Olivia Morales has been battling illnesses for most of her life. She got to connect with the family who helped her win her fight recently when she and her mother, Gabby Morales, were able to meet the family of Rudy Necochea, a 20-year-old man who was killed in an auto accident.

His grandmother, Sylvia Necochea, said that the family was having a really hard time dealing with the tragedy right after Rudy's death. Rudy's uncle Gabriel said that his mom was ready to give up, not wanting to cope with the loss any more. But, they decided to help other people live and donated Rudy's organs.

"He is alive in her now. So, that is going to help give me some closure also," Sylvia Necochea said.

Both the Necochea and Morales families, of Shafter, were honored by J.J. Legacy Foundation at their Annual Banquet. The foundation was formed when Lori Malkin's son Jeffrey Johns died in an auto accident in 2009. His organs were donated, and Lori was surprised by the lack of support there was for people who were looking for organs and those who were interested in donating.

She started JJ's Legacy to help those who have lost a loved one and are thinking about donating and also for those who have family waiting on a life-saving organ.

When Olivia was born with numerous complications, her mother feared for the worst but prayed for the best. Prayers were answered as she received care at the Valley Childrens Hospital in Madera.

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Sylvia Necochea meeting Olivia and Gabby for the first time.

Dr. Jeffrey Pietz, chief of newborn care at the hospital, worked to help Olivia survive. After many days of effort to resolve complications with her heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys, Gabby's mother was able to hold her for the first time.

With Olivia on her way to recovery, the only organs that did not respond to the treatment was her kidneys. Olivia would have to continue to receive treatment for them until a suitable donor could be found.

One was found and Olivia is now a happy 4-year-old. Gabby said that the doctors and staff at Valley Children's Hospital were amazing, helping her daughter live. Then, there was another angel in the form of Rudy Necochea who gave Olivia a chance for a great life.

"I am just so grateful to them," Gabby said. "My daughter has been through so much. They don't even know what a blessing they have done for my baby."


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