The family of organ donor David Rodriguez of Baldwin Park honored his life recently when they decorated his memorial floral portrait that will be part of the 2013 Donate Life Rose Parade float, "Journeys of the Heart."
The float will dramatize the ups and downs experienced by donor families, transplant recipients and living donors during this upcoming Rose Parade.
On March 2011, after spending the day with the eldest of his seven sisters, David was struck by a speeding car as he crossed the street. Only two blocks from his home, he sustained multiple injuries and lacerations, including a devastating head injury.
Although he was directly outside of a Kaiser hospital, his injuries were such that the responding medical units elected to have him sent to the trauma unit at LAC+USC Medical Center. He was pronounced brain dead the following day, but he remained on a ventilator until he was taken to surgery so his organs could be donated.
"Although my family and I are filled with sadness, we are comforted by the fact that David had chosen to be an organ donor," said his sister Margarita Herrara. "He chose to give his organs and tissue to others in need. Whether through research, or by having his organs transplanted to give others a chance to live, David's spirit lives on in the hearts of his loved ones as well as in the lives he helped."
On Wednesday, staff of the Hollywood Cole field office of the California Deparment of Motor Vehicles (DMV), including his sister Margarita, honored David as they decorate his floragraph.
One of 14 children, David Horacio Rodriguez was a dependable son, loyal brother and loving uncle and friend. He was by far the favorite uncle of all 28 of his nieces and nephews.
He played the role of surrogate father to all of them and they all knew they were his favorite. A joker, a kid at heart and a serious entertainment buff, David knew the lines to almost every movie or song he'd ever heard in his is life. He always had a story to tell and a warm loving hug to give.
David did not achieve acclaim or notoriety beyond his family and friends, but his life and his compassion will not be forgotten. His final act of generosity reflects the best of human kindness, and who David truly was.
It is the sincerest hope of his parents, thirteen siblings and 28 nieces and nephews that other individuals and families can experience the bittersweet comfort that comes from donation after such a loss. "Maybe one person will hear of my brother and his simple choice to check yes to being a donor at the DMV, and be encouraged to do the same," said Margarita.
Seventy-two organ, eye and tissue donors will be honored with floragraphs that will grace the Donate Life float in the 2013 Rose Parade. Each of the individuals portrayed in the floragraphs left a positive impact on their family, communities, and those they helped.
The 72 floragraphs will line the heart-shaped path rising above 32 riders aboard the float.
Today, more than 115,000 candidates are on the national organ transplant waiting list. Largely due to the rarity of donation opportunities, only about 28,000 organs are transplanted each year. As a result, 18 candidates die each day for lack of a donor.
A single organ donor can save the lives of eight people through organ donation, while a single tissue donor can save and heal 50 others through needed heart valves, corneas, skin, bone, and tendons that mend hearts, prevent or cure blindness, heal burns and save limbs. For more information visit www.donatelifefloat.org
- By Lisa Bernfeld