1-year-old Central California boy, who died from car crash injuries, saves 3 lives with organ donation

"He is a miracle to these three individuals that have been asking for miracles." Leopauld Sanchez's organs will go to a 6-month-old boy, a 3-month-old girl and an adult.
FRESNO, Calif. -- With tears in his eyes and pain in his heart, Lemoore Navy veteran Paul Sanchez gave his 1-year-old son Leopauld a hero's goodbye.

"I'm proud of you, son," Sanchez said as he kissed his son's forehead.

Sanchez, who's now in a wheelchair, stood to give his baby boy a final salute.

"You're a hero son, you're a hero," he said.

His time may have been short, but little Leopauld leaves a legacy. His organs are being donated to save the lives of three people. A 6-month-old boy is getting his heart, his liver will go to a 3-month-old girl, and his kidneys will go to an adult recipient.

"Doing that, we know that a part of our son will still live," said Sanchez.

MORE: CA parents say final goodbye to 5-month-old daughter, her organs donated
EMBED More News Videos

Michael Abrams and Jayden Rose joined their daughter, as well as many others, who honored the baby girl who is donating her organs after she was pronounced brain dead.


The toddler lost his life from injuries suffered in a devastating crash in Kings County.

Last November, Sanchez was driving his family of four home. He was just outside Kettleman City when another driver swerved into his lane, crashing head-on into his minivan.

Everyone was left disoriented from the impact, but Leopauld was unresponsive. People pulled over to help, including a nurse.

"I see it as a miracle when the pediatric nurse showed up out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere," he said.

Leopauld and his 8-year-old brother had to be airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center. There, the two boys and their parents underwent surgery.

The toddler's skull was detached from his spine, he also suffered severe brain injuries. Sanchez said Leopauld flatlined twice. A doctor said he wouldn't survive.

"But I told him, we believe in miracles," said Sanchez.

MORE: SoCal woman battling rare disease receives liver transplant from surprising donor
EMBED More News Videos

A Southern California woman battling a rare disease was in need of a liver transplant. Now, she's received the gift of life from a very surprising donor -- an old friend.


He needed to undergo intensive surgery that most hospitals would not attempt. Sanchez was told his son's state was so fragile, if he was moved to another facility, he could die.

Weeks later, Valley Children's Hospital was willing to do the surgery.

"We thank god for that, because we thought it was going to be the end for him," he said.

After the surgery, Leopauld showed signs of improvement. He finally opened his eyes, but his health started to decline once again.

Doctors ran several tests and determined the toddler was brain dead.

The Sanchez family had no choice but to pull the plug. But their little boy's death won't be in vain, his parting gift is that of life.

MORE: Loma Linda hospital staff pays tribute to teen who donated organs
EMBED More News Videos

Honor walks held for hospital patients about to donate their organ to others is a fairly new tradition. In the Inland Empire, one local family wanted to share their daughter's story to bring awareness about the desperate need for organ donation


"He is a miracle to these three individuals that have been asking for miracles," said Sanchez.

Little Leopauld will now live through the recipients.

Sanchez hopes his son's sacrifice will inspire others to become donors.

His family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses as they recover. If you would like to contribute, click here.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.