Luis Alvarez: 9/11 first responder who spent final days fighting for victim fund dies at 53

Luis Alvarez, a former NYPD detective who crusaded for funding for fellow 9/11 first responders, died Saturday at the age of 53.

Mattew McCauley, Alvarez’ lawyer and former NYPD colleague, announced his death on Facebook. Alvarez died from complications of colorectal cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2016 and was attributed to the months he spent at Ground Zero searching for fellow officers, according to The Hill.

Alongside former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, Alvarez appeared before House Judiciary subcommittee on June 11 and urged Congress to approve additional funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The New York Times reported that the $7.3 billion fund was started in 2011 to compensate first responders and families for illnesses caused by the 9/11 attacks. The federal fund is expected to be drained by the end of next year.

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Posted by Matt McCauley on Saturday, June 29, 2019

“I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11 like me are valued less than anyone else because of when they get sick,” he said before Congress.

“You made me come here the day before my 69th round of chemo. I’m going to make sure that you never forget to take care of the 9/11 responders.”

Alvarez was moved to hospice care a day after his visit to Washington, D.C. The Times reported that Alvarez was too disoriented to receive treatment, resulting in doctors discovering that his liver was failing.

According to the Never Forget Project, FDNY members who were at Ground Zero were found to have gotten thyroid, colon, prostate, and blood cancers at higher rates than those who didn’t. CBS News reported that more than 50,000 people have suffered illnesses caused by toxins that were released after the Twin Towers fell.

“My message to Congress is: We have to get together and get this bill passed as quickly as possible,” Alvarez told CBS earlier this month. “I would love to be around when it happens. The government has to act like first responders, you know, put politics aside and let’s get this bill done, because we did our job and the government has to do theirs.”

“My purpose now is, regretfully, I can’t throw the bomb suit on anymore and run around and do my job. As long as God gives me the time, I’ll be here, advocating, because guys are dying now.”

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[Featured image: Luis Alvarez/Facebook, US Network Pool via AP, Pool]