Pablo Ráez, the 20-year-old from Marbella whose two-year battle against leukemia was followed by thousands on social media, died on Saturday at his home surrounded by his family.
He was diagnosed in 2015 and his later campaign for bone marrow donors to give hope to people in his situation went viral on social media. As a result the number of bone marrow donors in the province of Malaga increased by 1,300% last year.
Ráez underwent his second bone marrow transplant in November last year after a suitable donor was found in the United States, following the first from his father. His condition had deteriorated however in recent weeks.
During his illness his messages to his followers contained his motto, "Siempre fuerte" (always strong).
Aware that his second transplant had not achieved the desired result, he said: "Death forms part of life, so you don't have to fear it, but love it."
Many tributes came in after the announcement of his death, most notably from politicians Mariano Rajoy and Pedro Sánchez, actor Antonio Banderas and the football team he supported, Malaga CF.
More than a thousand people attended his funeral at the Encarnación church in Marbella the following day, including the mayor of Marbella José Bernal and the mayor of Malaga Francisco de la Torre. Some of those who attended were forced to stand outside of the parish church during the ceremony due to the vast number of people who had come to pay their respects to the boy who wanted to become a fireman, just like his father.
The service was led by Pablo's godfather, José López Solórzano, who, visibly emotional, admitted all he wanted “was to cry with everyone else”. Solórzano also paid tribute to the family of a young man “who did what he was able to do and has left his mark in the world”.
Following the service, Ráez was cremated at a private ceremony held at the Virgen del Carmen cemetery.