Two-time heart transplant patient, 23, dies just days after marrying high school sweetheart

A two-time heart transplant patient, 23, has died just days after marrying his high school sweetheart in an emotional ceremony held at a chapel at the UChicago Medical Complex.

“Javi was a fighter, and he fought till his very last breath,” said his wife Crystal Cuevas-Rodriguez, according to The Chicago Times. “He died beautifully with so much grace.” 

Javier Rodriguez was in seventh grade when he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a birth defect in which the left ventricle of the heart is enlarged and weakened, thus impacting the heart's ability to pump blood. Rodriguez then underwent two heart transplants, one at 14 and another at 18, but was not qualified for a third because of complications from infections and kidney dysfunction. 

Javi and Cuevas-Rodriguez met as juniors in high school and married on Nov. 27, just days after Rodriguez decided to live out his final days in hospice.

“Javi was that man,” Cuevas-Rodriguez continued. “He was so confident. He wanted amazing things in life and no one could stop him.”

The couple is also parents to daughter, Leia, although Rodriguez struggled to hold her because of his condition. 

“Even if he was struggling, in pain or frustrated with life, he put his daughter first,” she said. “It meant the world to me that he gave everything he had to be the best father he could be.”

“He loved her with everything, and she’ll know that for a lifetime," she continued.

Javi's family has launched a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses, which has already raised $32,000. 

"After 10 years of fighting he made the decision to live out his last few day’s with the help of hospice," the fundraiser writes. "In our time of need, we ask for whatever help anyone can give so we can make the preparations for Javi’s departure."