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Life Stories: A ‘Gentle Giant’ Touches Four Lives

Bill Falafasa Ala'ilima Bill Falafasa Ala'ilima

Organ Donor: Long Beach, CA

Bill "BJ" Ala’ilima had a smile that was contagious and a heart that was bigger than he was. The youngest of five brothers, he was a gentle giant at 6’3”. BJ loved music, but football was his passion. His favorite team was the Oakland Raiders. There is no doubt that BJ would have made it to college playing football, said his mother, Marilyn Hopkinson, and his dream was to play professionally.

On Halloween night in 2005, 14-year-old BJ went trick-or-treating with family members. The next morning, he woke up for school but complained of being dizzy and said his head hurt. When he fell down, his mother called 911, and he was rushed to the hospital.  After an emergency craniotomy, BJ was put on a ventilator for 7 days, but tests revealed that he was brain dead. On November 8, his family made the decision to remove the ventilator, and BJ passed away peacefully with his family and friends by his side.

In his death, BJ gave life to 4 other people.

What was not known until after his death was that BJ was born with an arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal connection between artery and vein in his brain that caused a cerebral hemorrhage.

Through BJ’s death, he gave life to 4 other people with the donation of his heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. And his high school, Gardena High, retired his jersey number, 58, at the home game dedicated to BJ on the night of his organ donation surgery.

BJ's story is courtesy of OneLegacy, Los Angeles, CA.


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