The touching romantic drama ‘2 Hearts‘ tells the incredible story of how a young man’s death gave another a new lease on life. The crucial organ transplant that saved the life of Jorge Bacardi set in motion a sequence of events that have resulted in much support for the medical community, especially in regenerative medicine. His life-saving “angel” is honored in ‘2 Hearts,’ which was also funded by the grateful organ receiver and his wife. Let’s get to know Jorge Bacardi’s story.
Who Was Jorge Bacardi?
Jorge Bacardi was a member of the Bacardi family, the eponymous owners of one of the world’s largest family-owned spirit companies. Born to Caridad and Joaquin Bacardi on April 6, 1944, in Santiago de Cuba, Jorge’s birth came in the same year that his family company expanded to the United States. Already part of a successful business empire, Jorge went on to study Economics at Stanford University and Industrial Engineering at Miami University. He had two brothers, Jose Alberto and Jorge Enrique, and a sister, Carmen.
Jorge spent several decades working for his family company and on its board of directors. However, throughout most of his life, he suffered from a lung condition that made the essential act of breathing a challenge and for which Jorge had to suffer repeated infections and undergo multiple surgeries to survive. You see, as a child, he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and doctors at the time predicted that he would not survive past the age of 7.
However, Jorge pushed on with his difficult lungs and even made it past the age of 40, which doctors, again, had said was highly unlikely. In the late 1990s, however, it was realized that the initial diagnosis of Jorge’s condition had been inaccurate and that he suffered from a congenital disease called primary ciliary dyskinesia. Left with very few options and with his health deteriorating, Jorge put himself on the waiting list for a lung transplant.
The death of Christopher Mark Gregory, who was an organ donor and passed away unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm at the age of 19, gave Jorge a set of lungs that matched. Hence, after living with defective lungs for 64 years, Jorge underwent a 7-hour double lung transplant surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville on March 27, 2008. The operation was a success and left Jorge, for the first time, breathing through a set of fully functioning lungs.
In the years following his surgery, Jorge began to refer to Christopher as his “guardian angel, Gabriel,” and helped set up the Gabriel House of Care at the Mayo Clinic hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. The care house is aimed at helping long-term patients who require lodging during their treatment. As part of their gift, Jorge and his wife Leslie also started a fund for regenerative medicine research, so they could continue to support further research in the field that helped save Jorge’s life. They also helped fund the production of ‘2 Hearts’ in an effort to spread their incredible story and inspire people to become organ donors.
How Did Jorge Bacardi Die?
Jorge Bacardi passed away on September 23, 2020, at his home in the exclusive gated community Lyford Cay in the Bahamas. He was 76 at the time of his death. Predeceased by his brothers Joaquin and Alberto, Jorge was survived by his sister Carmen and his wife Leslie Bacardi. In the years following his lung transplant, the Bacardi executive was able to undertake outdoor activities and acknowledged that his lung capacity tested at 128 percent.
Twelve years ago, Jorge Bacardi received a double lung transplant from his donor Christopher. After receiving the transplant he wanted to honor Christopher, so he gave the gift of Gabriel House.
In April 2011 our house opened, and this year mark 10 years we have been open. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/PlheNlk4eZ
— Gabriel House of Care (@GabrielHouseFL) April 2, 2021
His gratitude toward his life-saving donor was regularly acknowledged. Jorge even cultivated a friendship with Christopher’s parents, Eric and Grace Gregory, and sent them pictures of him “with Chris,” doing activities like fishing that he could only do thanks to the young man’s lungs. His new lease on life and Christopher’s role in it is even mentioned in Jorge’s obituary.
The Gabriel House of Care at the Mayo Clinic Hospital thus pays tribute to Christopher and also serves as a memorial to the extraordinary circumstances that Jorge Bacardi survived. The care house continues to provide patients, and their caregivers with comfortable accommodation whilst they undergo long-term treatments for cancer or organ transplants.
Read More: Is 2 Hearts a True Story?