‘He’s a hero to all of us’: Teen who died saving family from house fire will have organs donated

National

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A “hero.” That’s how family and friends are remembering 17-year-old Xaven Garcia. The Albuquerque teen died this week after running back into his burning house to make sure his family was safe.

Garcia saved his dad after waking up to his house filled with flames late Sunday night. Now, he’s going to save many other people with his final wish to donate his organs.

“He’s a hero to all of us,” said Phil Garcia, Xaven’s dad. “He saved me.”

“He was getting his license this week, actually Friday, and he wanted to become a donor,” said Phil. “He asked me about it. I told him, ‘yeah, that’s a great thing.'” But his dad never expected Xaven would be donating his organs just days later when a space heater caught fire at the family’s home.

“All I was awoken to was him screaming at me, ‘Dad, get out. The house is on fire.’ He grabbed me, pulled me outside and I caught my breath because of the smoke inside the house,” said Phil.

Realizing his sister may have already been home from her late shift, and not knowing what time it was, Xaven ran back in.

He never came out.

“I told him to stay out here. I ran inside to check her room. That was a big no-no, I almost got stuck in there. I guess he ran towards the back and the neighbor witnessed him going in and he yelled at him not to go in,” said Phil. “The fire department found him probably 20 minutes… he was in the smoke 20-30 minutes. When they brought him out, he was pretty much gone.”

In the days since, it’s been a nightmare of waiting for any sign of hope as he remained on life support. His stepmother, Stacey, was away at the time, and spoke to him just an hour before the fire.

“The last words were, ‘I love you, Mom,'” recalled Stacey.

Doctors declared his death on Tuesday afternoon. His parents now look to his final heroic act of donating his organs. “To make another person have a life, he’s doing it for them,” said Phil. “I think that’s the ultimate way to go. That’s a true hero.”

The Valley High School senior loved skateboarding, computers, and family. Loved ones hope his legacy of selflessness will be what people remember him for.

“To help people still, you know, it’s just a blessing,” said Stacey. “Makes us proud.”

In the coming days, UNM Hospital will hold an “honor walk” for Xaven with his family and hospital staff, as his body is escorted to the operating room for the organ donation. Earlier Tuesday, Valley High School staff sent a letter out to parents to let them know of his death. They will have grief counselors at the school over the next couple of days.

The grandmother of Xaven has set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.

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