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Slain teen's family meets organ recipient for first time

Family members of a local teen whose organs were donated when he died in 2012 met the recipient for the first time.
December 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
On Feb. 23 2012, 14-year-old Lareanz Simmons was killed in a drive-by shooting while walking home from a friend's house in Riverside. While that horrible day ended Lareanz's life, it was also the beginning of a new chapter in his story.

"I didn't want my grandson to be shot like he was and then just forgotten about. I just wanted him to live on and he does live on," said Lareanz's grandmother, Bernice Hobdy.

Lareanz's family chose to donate his organs and this past weekend, nearly two years after his death, his mother and grandmother met a man who is alive because of their decision.

Dolores Manriquez weighed only 110 pounds and was nearly dead from kidney disease when he received Lareanz's kidney. In an emotional, first-ever meeting, Lareanz's mother, Teresa Stuart, wanted Dolores to know about her son.

"Lareanz is a part of him, and he's a part of me. He's a part of my mother. We're like family now because Lareanz lives in him," said Teresa.

Lareanz saved four lives by donating his heart, liver and two kidneys. The family wants to meet all of the recipients at some point. For Dolores and his daughter, this meeting was equally important. It was to express sorrow for the loss, but also to say thank you in a letter he read to them.

After the meeting, both families visited the Donate Life Float for this year's Rose Parade. Eighty-one organ donors will be displayed on the float, each meticulously decorated by volunteers. One near the front of the float will have special meaning to them: the image of Lareanz Simmons.

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