February 14, 2008

Manteca Family to Be on ‘Montel’

By Paul Burgarino

MANTECA -- The episode of "The Montel Williams Show" featuring a Manteca family that gave their deceased son's organs to others will air Tuesday, representatives from the show said Wednesday.

The episode, titled "When Catastrophe Strikes," features the story of Matthew Zaragoza-Van Gelderen, a Manteca teenager who died from a brain contusion sustained in a high school football game in September 2005.

Matthew died a week after his injury, but his parents decided to donate his organs.

Jose and Zona Zaragoza Van Gelderen, along with their three children were flown to New York on Oct. 18, 2007, to be on "The Montel Williams Show" where they met Tom Starr and Lorma Sealey.

Starr, 59, of Centerville, Iowa, was the recipient of Matthew's kidneys while Sealey, 41, of Bowie, Md., received his heart and lungs.

The show was very emotional, members of the Zaragoza family said.

"It's finally going to air," Zona Zaragoza-Van Gelderen said, "we're very excited. Hopefully, everybody marks their calendars and sets their TiVos."

The show had been scheduled to run Thanksgiving Day 2007, but did not air.

The rendezvous on Montel was arranged by the California Donor Transplant Network -- the group that helps donors and recipients to communicate through cards.

Zona immediately tried to

contact the recipients of Matthew's organs.

Though the majority of donor-recipient groups don't meet for a variety of reasons, this pairing connected quite well, said Cathy Olmo, a volunteer coordinator with the transplant network.

A program coordinator with "The Montel Williams Show" contacted the donor network about a possible story. Olmo recommended the Zaragozas.

Since Matthew's death, his father has become a volunteer for the California Donor Transplant Network -- touring schools over the past two years in San Joaquin County, eastern Contra Costa County and Tri- Valley about the benefits of organ donation.

"The Montel Williams Show" airs in Sacramento markets on KOVR Channel13 at 2 p.m. and in San Francisco markets on KTVU Channel 2 at 4 p.m.

Reach Paul Burgarino at 209-832-6143 or [email protected]

Originally published by Paul Burgarino, STAFF WRITER.

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