New Mural in San Jose’s SoFA District Honors Two Local Organ Donors

“The Offering” Mural Aims to Raise Awareness and Inspire More San Jose Residents to Register as Organ Donors

(SAN JOSE, CA) October 27, 2021 – San Jose’s SoFA district welcomes a new mural titled, “The Offering,” honoring two young local San Jose donors, Nancy Gutierrez and Brandon Castellanos, who both gave the gift of life through organ and tissue donation. The mural will be formally unveiled on November 1, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. at Higher Fire ceramics studio in downtown San Jose.

The 15 by 120 foot mural pays tribute to two young Hispanic donors and is part of an initiative to start a conversation about organ donation within the San Jose community. The mural ties in familiar Hispanic imagery including lotería cards and marigolds which are normally used during Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead – a traditional Mexican holiday celebrating the lives of loved ones who have passed observed on the first and second of November.

The mural was commissioned by Donor Network West, the federally designated organ procurement organization for Northern California and Northern Nevada. Through its partnership with local businesses, the San Jose Downtown Association was able to secure the location of the mural at Higher Fire, a local teaching studio and ceramics gallery in San Jose’s SoFA district. Local Color San Jose, a woman powered non-profit connecting artists to fair-pay opportunities, approached and secured local artist Roberto Romo to bring the mural to life.

Irma Navarro lost her daughter Nancy in October 2020. Nancy Gutierrez was just 16-years-old when she tragically lost her life. In the worst moments a mother could face, she made the decision to donate her daughter’s organs and in doing so, saved seven others.

“When I think of my daughter, Nancy, I see her smile and feel the strength to continue every day. She gave life to recipients. A part of Nancy is alive, this gives us strength to move forward every day. Remember her as a hero,” says Irma, Nancy’s mother.

The second young donor featured on the mural is Brandon Castellanos. Brandon died in a car accident in June 2006 at age 18, while driving home from a friend’s house. Prior to his death, Brandon learned about the growing need for organ transplants within the Hispanic community and registered to become an organ and tissue donor himself. Brandon made his wishes known to his family before his passing and led his mother, Sharon Castellanos, to establish a nonprofit in his name.

Brandon’s Crossroads was founded in 2012 by Sharon to honor her son, Brandon, and raise youth awareness around the importance of organ and tissue donation through community education. “I would like the mural to open our fellow community member’s eyes, minds and souls as they begin to think and talk about organ and tissue donation,” says Sharon Castellanos.

Santa Clara County currently has the longest list of patients waiting for an organ donation in Northern California, with more than 1,400 people on the waiting list. There are currently more than 100,000 men, women and children on the transplant waiting list in the United States. Minorities compromise nearly 60% of those on the national waiting list.

“Nancy and Brandon are just two of the many generous donors who selflessly gave the gift of life to help save those waiting for an organ transplant,” said Janice Whaley, President and CEO of Donor Network West. “We are honored to continue to share Nancy and Brandon’s legacy with the world and we hope that their stories continue to inspire more people to consider to register to become organ donors. Just one donor can help save eight lives through organ donation and heal another 75 through tissue donation. Together, we can one day eliminate the organ transplant waiting list.”

The mural unveiling will be held outdoors at 499 South Market Street in San Jose and is open to all.

WHEN AND WHERE:
November 1 2021, 5:00 p.m. – Higher Fire, 499 S. Market St. San Jose, CA 95113

WHO:

  • Janice Whaley, President & CEO of Donor Network West
  • Roberto Romo, Artist
  • Dan Dermer, Owner of Higher Fire
  • Annie Kretowicz, Teacher at Dept. of Education Santa Clara County
  • Irma Navarro, Donor Mother
  • Sharon Castellanos, Donor Mother

To learn more about organ and tissue donation and to register to be a donor, visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or visit DonorNetworkWest.org.

About Donor Network West

Donor Network West saves and heals lives by facilitating organ and tissue recovery for transplantation and research. The organization was established in 1987 and is an official Donate Life organization accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Federally designated to serve 45 counties in Northern California and Northern Nevada, Donor Network West partners with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state-authorized donor registries. For information, visit DonorNetworkWest.org and follow us on social media: @mydnwest.