An L.A. County sheriff’s deputy who was battling a life-threatening diagnosis said Thursday that he considers one of his comrades a brother after the fellow deputy donated a portion of his liver to help save his life.
Deputy Jorge Castro and deputy Javier Tiscareno tearfully spoke of their love and respect for one another at an emotional news conference Thursday as the two recovered from surgery.
“I’m so grateful for Javier,” said Castro, who was diagnosed with a failing liver in January 2014. “I don’t think I can ever pay him back. … He’s given me life, my boys, my wife, the rest of my family, but I never thought I was going to have a brother at age 40.”
Castro, a 14-year veteran working at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, was told he needed a transplant after treatments were unsuccessful, but none of his family members were a match.
A year after his diagnosis, Castro’s disease continued to progress and he still had not found a donor, he said.
His prospects changed when Tiscareno approached him at a gym and asked Castro how he was doing.
Castro said he was fine, but Tiscareno said he could tell something was wrong and continued to inquire.
“He said, ‘I should be dead by the end of the year,’” Tiscareno said. “That was unacceptable to me.”
Tiscareno, an 18-year department veteran, said then that he would be Castro’s donor. Tests later showed he was a perfect match.
“The words I will never forget was when he told me ‘I am not going to go to a funeral knowing I could have helped,'” Castro said.
After a successful surgery in which Castro’s damaged liver was removed and replaced with 60 percent of Tiscareno’s liver, Tiscareno said one of the most memorable moments for him was meeting his friend’s children.
“Jorge was able to say, ‘hey, you know, this is the guy who saved me,’” Tiscareno said. “What touched me is now I get to see you grow up, I get to be part of your life, and that gave me so much happiness.”
Castro, and others members of the Sheriff's Department, are family, Tiscareno said.
“I’m thankful to have him here, and I hope to have him here for the rest of his life. May it be long, healthy and prosperous,” he said.