At Gate Precast Company, our people are our pride. The Gate Employee Spotlight program honors our employees and share what makes them extraordinary with our Gate family and others.
Since 2012, Gate has recognized nine employees as Employee Spotlight honorees. Each were selected based acts of community service, compassion, heroism or overcoming obstacles. This meaningful recognition of employees has been well-received.
Ricardo Ortega, Pouring Crewman at Gate Precast in Hillsboro, TX, was the 2015 Employee Spotlight award recipient. Ricardo was recognized for his dedication to Gate and his personal achievements in the face of great obstacles. We are proud to have him as a part of the Gate family.
Gate Precast Company
Ortega Receives Gift of Life from His New Wife
One of the first things you might notice about Ricardo Ortega, aside from his quiet nature, is a large tattoo on his forearm. The tattoo features the word “Lala” in large cursive letters, with “my wife is my hero” centered below it in smaller text. It is a sweet statement with an incredibly powerful story behind it.
In October 2012, Ricardo began dating Christina, who went by the nickname of “Lala.” They had known each other through a family member for many years and reconnected through Facebook. Ricardo and Christina (“Lala”) discovered they had many things in common, including both were divorced with children and both of their mothers were deceased. Facebook indeed made the heart grow fonder. With 45 miles in between them, the two began to cultivate a relationship. The distance between Ricardo, who lived in Itasca, Texas, and Christina, who was attending college in Ft. Worth, became challenging.Ricardo began his career with Gate Precast in Hillsboro, Texas, in April 2008. He works on the Pouring Crew and is a valuable member of the Gate team. Prior to his employment with Gate Precast, Ricardo was diagnosed with diabetes which has affected his kidneys. Ricardo was never overly concerned about his doctor’s warning that he might have to take medication to improve his kidney function in the future.
In August 2013, Christina finished her current semester in college and moved to Itasca with her four children to join Ricardo and his son.
“I immediately knew I was going to marry her when I saw how important she made me feel and she treated my son like one of her own,” said Ricardo. Christina’s feelings were mutual. “I really loved how accepting and loving Ricardo was to my four children.”
The following month, Christina asked if she could go with Ricardo to a routine doctor’s appointment. When he was adamantly against her going with him, she began to worry about his health. Out of her concern, she persisted and Ricardo allowed her to accompany him. This was a blessing because she was with him when he received an unexpected diagnosis. His kidneys were only functioning at 19% and, therefore, Ricardo’s doctor recommended he begin dialysis immediately. If the function level dropped much below 11%, his body would reject dialysis. The doctor asked Ricardo if he had any family who might consider donating a kidney. Ricardo, feeling numb from the shock of his doctor’s diagnosis, couldn’t speak but simply shook his head “no.”
Kidney patients with 15% functionality are eligible to be put on the kidney transplant list, according to the University of California Davis Transplant Center. However, Ricardo never had to be listed on the National Registry because Christina offered to donate one of her kidneys, if deemed a good match to him. Ricardo was in disbelief of her willingness to do this for him.
Ricardo, concerned about how much work he would have to miss, opted for a dialysis procedure he could self-perform. He often did dialysis at work -- sometimes in an empty manager’s office or other available and appropriate spaces.
In July 2014, Christina quit her job in order to go through extensive testing to see if she was a suitable kidney donor for Ricardo. She had to undergo blood tests to insure she had the same blood type as Ricardo and that their blood was compatible with six matching antigens. An ultrasound was performed to test other factors in her kidney’s health and to rule out kidney stones. According to UC Davis Transplant Center, the odds of an unrelated donor being a perfect match is 1 in 100,000 people, so it was incredible to find out that Christina was a perfect match for Ricardo!
Ricardo and Christina went to visit their mothers’ graves together one afternoon in August 2014. While they were at Christina’s mother’s grave, Ricardo knelt down and proposed to her, as a symbol of respect for her mother. On Sept. 26, 2014, Ricardo and Christina (“Lala”) blended their families and were married in a small civil ceremony, with just a few friends and family.
Almost exactly two months later, Ricardo was given the amazing gift of a kidney donation from his new wife. Some of the hospital staff tried to convince Ricardo to go on disability, but he said that he “had no intention of quitting work.” The su
rgery was a success and doctors saw immediate improvement in his kidney function. Ricardo recovered faster than expected, and was able to go home on Nov. 29, just four days after his kidney transplant. Ricardo and Christina feel they are blessed to have friends from church who have been by their side and helped them throughout their journey. Ricardo’s determination to heal quickly and his deep faith in God helped him return to work three weeks after the kidney transplant surgery.
Ricardo and Christina, with their five children, enjoy spending time together as a family, camping, and attending church at Third Day Worship Center in Itasca, Texas.
The newly married couple renewed their vows in a church ceremony with family and friends on Christina’s late mother’s birthday, Oct. 17, 2015.