Behind-the-Scenes: Rafael’s Story

Twenty years ago, Rafael Henriquez immigrated to Washington, DC from Mexico City, Mexico. Rafael, a journalist by trade, is the Executive Producer for the Univision television news program Política Ya, which covers events affecting the Hispanic community in the U.S. While sharing stories about events impacting people’s lives, Rafael had no idea about the medical crisis he was about to endure behind-the-scenes.

In 2018[JD1] , one of Rafael co-workers stopped by his house for a welfare check because Rafael hadn’t been answering any phone calls. The co-worker found him collapsed on the floor and immediately called 911.

“I was rushed to the emergency room at Inova Hospital, where doctors diagnosed me with Hepatitis A. They told me I was in acute liver failure and would need a liver transplant to live.” When Rafael was transferred to Medstar Georgetown University Hospital reality started to sink in. “I was in absolute shock by the severity of my condition. Up until this point, I had no idea I was even sick.”

48 hours after being admitted to Medstar Georgetown, Rafael received a lifesaving liver transplant from a deceased organ donor. “I am so grateful to my donor for giving me a second chance at life. Through my experience, I have gotten to know other transplant patients at Georgetown who have shared their stories of hope and determination.”

Rafael eventually got back on his feet with the help of his sister who took care of him for five months while he recovered from the transplant surgery.

Today, Rafael is back on the job at Univision telling stories that matter. He is also a passionate advocate for organ donation. “Organ donation is truly a miracle. My experience showed me to not take my health or life for granted.”

Rafael is sharing his transplantation story in hopes of educating people in the Hispanic community about the importance of registering to be an organ donor. Especially when you consider that more than 21,000 of those waiting for an organ transplant in the United States are Hispanic. “It is important for our community to hear firsthand from individuals who have received a transplant. I encourage people to educate themselves about donation and trust the medical professionals who facilitate these lifesaving gifts.”

Rafael continues to partner with Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC), the local nonprofit organ procurement organization, to share his story and help dispel myths and misconceptions that exist about donation.