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Manteca’s Zaragoza family honored for supporting organ donation effort

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Manteca’s Zaragoza family honored for supporting organ donation effort

Jose Zaragoza, his wife, daughters and mother in law received the California Transplant Donor Network Kay Huse “Paying it Forward” Award.

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POSTED July 4, 2012 2:15 a.m.

Members of a Manteca family who became passionate supporters of lifesaving organ and tissue donation after their loved became a donor have received an award from the California Transplant Donor Network.

 Jose Zaragoza, his wife, daughters and mother in law received the CTDN Kay Huse “Paying it Forward” Award recognizing their volunteer work for the nonprofit which links organ and tissue donors with recipients in Northern California and Northern Nevada.  Last year, CTDN saved or enhanced more than 47,000 lives through organ and tissue donation.  

Huse Kay was born in 1964 with Cystic Fibrosis which she battled her entire life. She received a double lung transplant in 2000.  Before she died in 2008, Huse was a Donate Life Ambassadors at CTDN for five years helping to spread the word about registering as an organ and tissue donor.  The award was created in her honor in 2008.

In 2005, Jose and Zona Zaragoza’s teenage son, Matthew, was declared brain dead as the result of a tackle while he played football for East Union High. Matthew did not make his wish on donation known, but when asked the family decided Matthew could be a “hero” by saving the lives of others through donation of his organs and tissues.

Indeed, Matthew’s gifts of life saved four others immediately.  In addition to Jose and Zona, and their daughters, Katrina and Kristy, Matthew’s grandmother, Valda Van Gelderen, joined the effort to let others know about organ and tissue donation.  Since then, they have spoken to dozens and dozens of groups.  Jose has made himself a presence on high school campuses throughout Northern California, telling Matthew’s story to high school students.

The family story is part of an eight-minute video about organ and tissue donation which has been shown to thousands of high school students in California and Northern Nevada as part of a CTDN campaign.   Katrina and now Kristy have also become regular speakers at schools while Zona and Valda have “adopted” several DMV offices in the Central Valley. The Department of Motor Vehicles partners with CTDN in spreading the word about donation – anyone who gets or renews a driver’s license in California is asked if they would be willing to register as an organ and tissue donor.

Kathy Clark, CTDN Volunteer Program Manager, said, “Not long after the family reached its decision to donate Matthew’s organs, the family decided to also make sure that others knew of the miracle of donation.  By bringing Matthew’s story to schools, hospitals and other groups, they’ve had a huge impact, causing people to register as donors and save more lives. They continue to inspire others.”

Says Zona about the family’s support of the donation cause, “I realized how wonderful organ donation is. Just seeing that someone has a wonderful and productive life because of it.”

The California Transplant Donor Network is federally designated as the region’s organ recovery organization. For information, visit

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