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Alumnus serves, saves in Boston attack

September 2013

by Tina Luther

Jorge A. Alvarez, M.D., and his wife Rebecca are pictured at the Boston Marathon.
Alumnus Jorge A. Alvarez, M.D., congratulates his wife, Rebecca, after she crosses the Boston Marathon finish line. Despite the shock of the tragedy that occurred thereafter, Dr. Alvarez took immediate action to help the injured.
San Antonio cardiologist and UT Health Science Center alumnus Jorge A. Alvarez, M.D., and his wife, Rebecca, are avid runners. They enjoy the spirit and excitement of participating in various runs and marathons. Oftentimes Dr. Alvarez volunteers in a medical tent where he treats runners for minor aches and exhaustion while Rebecca runs.

But routine injuries and fatigue turned into life-threatening lacerations and catastrophe during the Boston Marathon April 15. That afternoon, Dr. Alvarez was stationed as a medical volunteer near the finish line and proudly greeted his wife when she crossed.

Twenty minutes later, their celebration turned to turmoil when a thunderous boom exploded nearby. Two bombs detonated near the finish line.

Instinctively, Dr. Alvarez, who was not hurt, rushed toward the scene - a ubiquitous fog of smoke and confusion. Blood and the wounded were scattered about. He immediately tended to the gravely injured while others hurried to offer help.

"I remembered the mantra Ďlife over limbí taught during clinicals in medical school," Dr. Alvarez said. "I used anything I could find - hoses, tubes and my belt - as tourniquets."

Authorities quickly cleared and secured the area. Dr. Alvarez was among the last to leave the scene as he helped move the wounded to a safe location nearby where he continued to attend to their injuries and waited for emergency responders to transport them to hospitals.

Later, Dr. Alvarez was tearfully reunited with his wife at a hotel nearby. She was unharmed.

Ultimately, dozens of lives were saved because of Dr. Alvarezís quick and selfless response and the help of other volunteers.

"Itís what we are trained to do," he said. "The root of being human is compassion and that is what we are called to give."

Although his actions are considered heroic, Dr. Alvarez shies away from praise. "A hero wears a cape," he said. "I wear a white coat. The white coat means Iím here to help. Iím here to serve."

Natalie Gutierrez contributed to this story.

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Updated 7/30/14