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Berkeley Teen Uses His Miraculous Recovery To Help Others

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A Berkeley teenager who was told last year that he had a week to live, will throw out the first pitch at Wednesday's San Francisco Giants game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In January 2010, 17-year-old Alfonso Garcia, then a sophomore at St. Mary's College High School in Berkeley, suddenly started feeling sick. Within three days doctors diagnosed the healthy active 15-year-old with Wilson's disease, a rare hereditary disease that prevents the body from ridding itself of copper.

"For 15 years I was just storing copper in my liver," said Garcia. "They gave me a timeframe of 48 hours to get a transplant, or else after that I would probably fall into a coma."

Garcia and his family were told he had a week to live without a transplant. He describes it as a horrible time, but doctors quickly found a liver from a 21-year-old Sacramento man who'd died of a sinus infection.

"I haven't met his family, but I really wish one day I could meet them to tell them how thankful I am," said Garcia.

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

Garcia, who is now an ambassador for the California Transplant Donor Network, speaks to students about how organ donation saved his life.

"Before you're 18 donations are by parental consent, and you need to make sure that they know if you want to be a donor or not," said Garcia.

Because of his work, Garcia, a lifelong Giants fan, was asked to throw the first pitch at Wednesday's game. He's exited to meet his favorite players Pablo Sandoval and Brian Wilson.

"I think it would be interesting to see if he knows that there's a disease called Wilson's disease," laughed Garcia. "I'm not really sure if he knows that."

Before his transplant, Garcia planned to follow in his two older brother' footsteps and join the military. Now, after graduation next year he wants to study communications in college to help his work in speaking about organ donation.

"I feel like I'm doing something to help others out, and it's a good feeling," said Garcia.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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