Trinidad Flores was a leader. In the American Indian community of Little Earth in Minneapolis, Trinidad was widely known and highly respected.
If there was a program in the community, Trinidad was involved. He played football, baseball and basketball. When he emceed a monthly Pow Wow he set a trend for other youth to emcee these special ceremonies with elders. He circulated a petition to save the community’s Ojibwe language class. He was a role model, a friend, a brother.
It was following a baseball game when he was 14 that Trinidad’s coach noticed he seemed unusually tired. What was thought to be the flu turned out to be a much more serious condition called dilated cardiomyopathy that enlarges and weakens the heart. Trinidad would need a transplant to survive.
In a culture where organ and tissue donation isn’t traditionally accepted, Trinidad was a leader. At just 14 years old, he told his mom that if anything should happen to him, he wanted to help others through donation. When he received his driver’s license at 16, he registered.
For two years, Trinidad was in and out of the hospital while he waited for his transplant. Then, a generously donated heart was a match for Trinidad. With great hope and faith, his family and friends gathered for his surgery and what was supposed to be his new, healthy, beginning.
Tragically, shortly after receiving his desperately-needed heart transplant, Trinidad suffered a life-ending stroke. Once again, he had the opportunity to be a leader. His mother, Cassandra, protected his donation decision and Trinidad gave the precious gifts of his kidneys and liver to save the lives of two people.
Trinidad’s legacy is felt throughout his community. The baseball and basketball teams he loved have been renamed the Red Bears, in honor of his native name, Red Bear Standing. A “Love Trini” movement sponsors youth events and toys for children at Amplatz Children’s Hospital. More people are following Trinidad’s lead and registering as a donor.
Trinidad was a leader who saved lives.