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Wife honors husband’s decision to donate and helps save four lives

“I Like Knowing There Is A Part of Him in Each Person He Helped Save”

Maria and Arturo welcomed their first daughter, Sidney, in 1997 and went on to have three more daughters, Arlene, Stephanie, and Kimberly.

Arturo Rubio made many difficult decisions throughout his life. But some decisions were easy for him, like registering to become an organ and tissue donor and encouraging everyone he knew to do the same.

“He arrived in Chicago in 1996 and immediately got his license and signed up to become an organ and tissue donor,” said Maria Rubio, Arturo’s wife. “He wanted to help give others a second chance at life.”

Twenty-three years later, at age 47, Arturo’s selfless decision to register as a donor helped save the lives of four people who were waiting for organ transplants.

On July 18, 1998, two years after moving to the United States, Arturo and Maria Rubio married and continued their journey together founded on faith and love.

Difficult Decisions

Arturo met and fell in love with Maria in their home state of Michoacán in Mexico. Although they’d previously seen each other on a few occasions, they connected at a town dance and according to Maria, “their fates were sealed.” But Arturo had plans to enter the seminary and although they both felt their connection was strong, Arturo’s desire to become a priest was powerful.

They decided to part ways. Arturo went off to seminary and Maria went on to study nursing.

“I tried to go on with my life,” Maria said. “I dated other people, studied, and worked. But I suffered. Although I knew logically that our love was impossible, I always had hope.”

Arturo was loved, respected, and supported in his hometown because he was an exemplary young man. He was generous, kind and loved helping others. His family and the entire town already saw him as a priest.

Maria thought it would be best if she moved to the United States, so she decided to start a new life in Chicago, but before she left, Arturo and Maria’s paths crossed once again at another town event celebrating a visit from the Archbishop.

Maria eventually moved to Chicago, but she wasn’t alone. She was pregnant with her and Arturo’s first child. Arturo left seminary, got his visa, and joined Maria in Chicago soon after she arrived. They began working hard to raise their family and create a life together far away from their homeland and loved ones.

The decision to choose the woman he loved and a family over becoming a priest was extremely difficult for Arturo and it was painful for Maria to see him struggle with it. She recalled, “I cared more about him and what people would say about him, not what people would think or say about me.”

Building Together

Maria and Arturo welcomed their first daughter, Sidney, in 1997 and got married July 18, 1998. They had three more daughters, Arlene, Stephanie, and Kimberly.

Like some immigrants, Maria and Arturo struggled, but they were a great team. Arturo worked hard and never complained, and when he didn’t feel tired, he’d take Maria dancing.

“We never stopped going out on dates to dance,” Maria said. “And we’d go to the movies. Even when he was feeling really run down, he wanted to make sure we had fun. I miss his attentiveness. He always had time for everything and everyone.”

But Maria could tell something was missing for Arturo. He seemed to have a void in his life previously filled by his seminary studies and God.

“We found a church where he helped with different activities,” Maria said. “They gave him the opportunity to teach catechism to children. He enrolled in a pastoral leadership and later became a deacon.”

Things began to feel more balanced for Arturo. He even joined a project to construct a church in his hometown. He had planned to travel to Michoacán for the inauguration but passed away before the trip.

Honoring Her Beloved

On February 15, 2019 Arturo was doing patchwork on the ceiling for a local business. Maria remembers receiving two calls that afternoon—the first was from Arturo to discuss dinner plans and the second, about an hour and a half later, was from Arturo’s supervisor letting her know Arturo suffered a devastating fall.

Doctors pronounced Arturo brain dead on February 16 and Maria honored his decision to become an organ and tissue donor.

In February 2020, Maria received a letter from the woman who received Arturo’s heart. It was a bittersweet moment for her, but she looks forward to one day meeting her and the other three people Arturo saved. In the meantime, she wants to share the message about the benefits of donation because she feels it has brought her some comfort after her family’s painful loss.

“I felt good reading the letter, but it doesn’t make the pain of losing him go away,” Maria said. “I do like knowing that she’s grateful to God for a new chance at life and that she’s going to get married. I like knowing that there is a part of him in each person he helped save.”

Join the Organ and Tissue Donor Registry by Clicking Here or Texting HOPE to 51555.