Luis Alvarez, 9/11 first responder who testified to Congress, dies aged 53

Luis Alvarez, 9/11 first responder who testified to Congress, dies aged 53

Luis Alvarez, a first responder to the September 11 attacks back in 2001 who also testified before Congress, has died aged 53.

Alvarez, a police officer with New York City who also fought for the 9/11 Victim Compensation fund, died earlier this weekend after a three-year-long battle with colorectal cancer, according to the family attorney, Matthew McCauley.

"It is with peace and comfort, that the Alvarez family announce that Luis (Lou) Alvarez, our warrior, has gone home to our Good Lord in heaven today. Please remember his words, 'Please take care of yourselves and each other,'" said McCauley in a statement.

"We told him at the end that he had won this battle by the many lives he had touched by sharing his three year battle. He was at peace with that, surrounded by family. Thank you for giving us this time we have had with him, it was a blessing!"

At the time of the attack, Alvarez spent weeks down at Ground Zero searching for survivors and was one of around 50,000 people who became ill thanks to toxins released when the towers collapsed after the attack. Earlier this month, Alvarez testified before Congress alongside Jon Stewart demanding a compensation bill for first responders.

"My message to Congress is: We have to get together and get this bill passed as quickly as possible," Alvarez said to CBS Evening News.

"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."

Alvarez entered end-of-life hospice care last week, and revealed via Facebook that his liver had completely shut down thanks to his tumours, and that he did not have much time left.

"So now I'm resting and I'm at peace. I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it's time. I will try to do a few more interviews to keep a light on our fight for the VCF [Victim Compensation Fund] benefits we all justly deserve. Please take care of yourselves and each other," he wrote.