"It makes your family feel at peace knowing you're saving another life," his stepmom Stacey said.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 24, 2021. It has since been updated.
Xaven Garcia, a 17-year-old high school senior from Albuquerque, and his father Phil Garcia, had fallen asleep on the couch while they were watching a game. Late, Phil got up and went to the bedroom, but he didn't wake his son up. However, he was later awoken by the teen, who told him the house was on fire, and they needed to get out, according to PEOPLE. "I was kind of in a daze, I couldn't really wake up. So, he literally grabbed me and started pulling me out the house," he recalled to The Albuquerque Journal. The two of them made it out safe, but Phil started worrying about his daughter because he thought she was still inside. She was actually at work, and he'd forgotten about it, but that didn't stop him from going inside the burning house to look for her.
Before he went, he told Xaven not to follow him, but shortly after going inside, Phil said he collapsed. His son then ran back in to save his dad, too. "He probably ran in to go grab me again. And the smoke overtook him," Phil said.
Albuquerque teen Xaven Garcia died today after running back into a burning house to make sure his family was safe. Now, he's going to save many other people with his final wish to donate his organs. We hear from his parents, tonight on @krqe at 10. pic.twitter.com/8vr5iCJQJ1— Jami Seymore (@JamiSeymore) November 17, 2021
"They think that he died pretty much instantly because the black soot filled his lungs and killed him instantly," Phil said of his son. "There were no signs of him struggling or suffering in any way, shape, or form." Meanwhile, Albuquerque Fire Rescue spokesman Tom Ruiz revealed that authorities are "looking into the matter," but added that the blaze was accidental in nature.
Xaven was kept on life support after the incident, but unfortunately, he didn't survive. Although he managed to help others through organ donation even in death. It was only a short while before his death that the family found out organ donation was something he truly cared about. "We were watching something on TV and I was pulling something out of my wallet, and I've got nimble fingers, dropped it, and my license popped out," Phil told NBC affiliate KOB. Xaven immediately asked him about the heart symbol on his ID.
17-year-old Xaven Garcia ran into a burning home to save his father. Today, his parents told @BriWilsonKOB how their son died a hero – and is still saving lives. https://t.co/Cka5V0DZfU— KOB 4 (@KOB4) November 20, 2021
"I told him it was for, to be an organ donor if something tragic happened. And he just looked at me and goes, 'I'm gonna get that done,'" Phil recalled. "He's a hero to all of us," his father told KRQE. Knowing that Xaven was able to save more lives has helped make this difficult time easier for the grieving family. "It makes your family feel at peace knowing you're saving another life," his stepmom Stacey said.
Although no one knows who will be receiving Xaven's organs, it is likely his spleen, kidneys and other tissues will save up to eight lives. "I believe his heart went to Colorado, his liver went to another 17-year-old boy in New York state," his father said.
A “hero.” That’s how family and friends are remembering 17-year-old Xaven Garcia. The Albuquerque teen died this week after running back into his burning house to make sure his family was safe. pic.twitter.com/T87tIWaksS— NewsNation Now (@NewsNationNow) November 19, 2021
"I just hope that whoever the participants are that get my son's organs, that they really cherish every moment of life," he added. "They are so blessed to have what they're getting."
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe | Funeral for Xaven Garcia