Patient Heading to the Rose Parade to Honor His Three ‘Angel Organ Donors’

Anyone who’s met Joseph Sanchez-Munoz will tell you he is special. His love of music, bubbly personality and zest for life are infectious. Just looking at him, you wouldn’t know that this 19-year-old has been through a lot. He’s had three transplants—a kidney, liver and heart—at three different points in his life.

“Without the organ donor, there is no story, no hope, no transplant,” says Elena Munoz, Joseph’s mother. “But when there is an organ donor, life springs from death, sorrow turns to hope, and a terrible loss becomes a gift. This is the exact miracle that our three angel organ donors have done for my Joe Joe; they saved him not once but three times.”

 Joseph was born with dysplastic kidney disease (underdeveloped kidneys), and soon after birth, liver cancer. The cancer was causing his liver to fail, so at just 10 months of age, he got a liver transplant.

As he grew older, his smaller kidneys had to work harder, which led to a kidney transplant evaluation. He had a successful kidney transplant at 9 years old. But that wasn’t the end of his journey. In January 2023, Joseph ended up at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford again—this time with heart failure. To determine the best care approach, the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center Pediatric Advanced Cardiac Therapies (PACT) (heart failure/heart transplant) team worked closely with his liver and kidney transplant teams.

“Joseph’s care represents a combination of an extremely dedicated family, parent and family advocacy for their child’s health, and an institution that had the various areas of expertise—everything from nephrology to hepatology to heart transplant to perioperative pain management to our outpatient team—to pull Joe Joe through,” says John Dykes, MD, pediatric cardiologist.

Now as the anniversary of Joseph’s heart transplant approaches, he is excited to be honoring and representing millions of individuals whose lives have been touched by the generosity of organ, eye, and tissue donation at the 135th Rose Parade on the OneLegacy Donate Life float.

“Joe Joe has just had so many struggles and challenges,” says Seth Hollander, MD, pediatric cardiologist and medical director of the Heart Transplant program. “The fact that he’s come through them not only healthy, but also happy, positive, and embracing everything life has to offer is just the best.”

When talking about it, Joseph gets emotional. His message is one of gratitude and hope.

“I want Joseph’s journey to inspire the world to sign up to become organ donors,” Elena adds. “To give others like Joe Joe another chance, it means a lot to us…the generous gift of life from Joe Joe’s donors pulled him out of his darkest place, healed, and saved him. We will forever be grateful, and he will live honoring his donors.”

Read more about Joseph’s story: Young Man Receives the Rare Gift of Three Transplants >


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