ROSE PARADE 2015: Three-Way Connection of Living Kidney Donor, Deceased Donor and Organ Transplant Recipient to Be Honored
Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network and University of Rochester Medical Center/Strong Memorial Hospital will sponsor and honor three individuals from Rochester who were part of an awe-inspiring, hard to believe, three-way connection involving organ donation.
The theme of the 126th Rose Parade that will take place in Pasadena, California on January 1, 2015, is “Inspiring Stories.” Tying in with that uplifting concept, the Donate Life float’s theme to promote organ, eye and tissue donation, is “The Never-Ending Story.”
So it’s especially fitting that Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network and University of Rochester Medical Center/Strong Memorial Hospital will sponsor and honor three individuals from Rochester who were part of an awe-inspiring, hard to believe, three-way connection involving organ donation.
Living kidney donor Laurie LoMonaco will walk alongside the Donate Life float during the parade. She will be one of twelve living donors doing so on New Year’s Day in front of a worldwide television audience of millions.
Paul Guyette, a deceased organ donor, will be honored at the parade with a memorial floragraph — a portrait created with floral materials — that will adorn the float. Paul’s wife, Mary, who lovingly helped make the floragraph, will be in Pasadena for the parade. A total of 72 floragraphs will be displayed on the float.
Heart transplant recipient Gaetano “Gates” Orlando, a former Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Amerks hockey player and hockey coach, will join 29 other riders on the Donate Life float. Paul Guyette was his donor. (Read further to find out how this happened.) Gates is currently a talent scout for the New Jersey Devils.
PERSONAL STORIES: How did this three-way connection occur?
The manner in which these three people became inextricably linked could be the basis for a compelling novel — but, incredibly, the series of events that bind them together happened this way:
- CONNECTION #1: On January 23, 2013, Laurie LoMonaco donates a kidney to a relative stranger, someone she’d met a decade earlier who was now very ill and on dialysis. Laurie had been motivated to do so three years earlier after seeing a story on television about a man who decided to be an altruistic kidney donor. After researching living donation for two years, she initiated the process in January 2012. Laurie’s best friends, Mary and Paul Guyette, were aware of how she had donated a kidney. Paul stated how proud he was of Laurie for her decision.
- CONNECTION #2: Just ten days after Laurie donated a kidney, Paul Guyette suffers a severe intracranial brain hemorrhage in the middle of the night and he subsequently becomes an organ donor at the age of 42. When Paul’s wife, Mary, and her family were approached at Strong Memorial Hospital by FLDRN staff requesting they consider organ donation, she remembered how Laurie’s kidney donation had impressed Paul. She also discovered Paul had spoken the previous day with his father about Laurie’s story and this helped to confirm the decision. In addition to his heart, Paul donated his liver, kidneys, saphenous veins and corneas. Just as Paul was in awe of Laurie, now Mary and daughters Jenna and Emma can look up to their own hero.
- CONNECTION #3: Gates Orlando receives his new heart from Paul on February 5, 2013. A diagnosis of sarcoidosis, a rare form of heart failure, in early 2011, had threatened the life of this Rochester Amerks Hall of Famer.Gates had been living at Strong Memorial Hospital for the previous ten months with an artificial heart waiting for a transplant. Now, after all this time, his donor was at the same hospital. Paul’s family members were sure it would have pleased him that his recipient was a NHL legend.
AN INSPIRATION TO OTHERS: “Consider becoming an organ donor.”
To promote organ donation, Paul’s wife, Mary, has joined Gates at events to tell their shared story. “I am blessed and grateful to have been given the Gift of Life,” says Gates. “Please consider becoming an organ donor.”
Rob Kochik, executive director of the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, says: “This unbelievable organ donation and transplantation three-way connection will hopefully inspire others to sign up as organ donors. Laurie, Paul and Mary, and Gates, represent all that is positive about donation. It shows that living donors can bring hope to others; deceased donors can save lives and bring comfort to their loved ones; and recipients complete the circle of life, the never-ending story.”
DONATE LIFE FLOAT — Butterflies Symbolize Donor’s Power
The 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, coordinated by OneLegacy, the nonprofit organ recovery agency that serves the Los Angeles metropolitan area, will feature 60 beautiful butterflies emerging from an open book, representing the number of lives transformed by a single deceased donor.
As part of “The Never-Ending Story” theme, the butterflies will ascend above floragraph portraits of deceased donors whose legacies are nurtured by their loved ones.
The Rose Parade will take place Thursday, January 1, 2015, at 11 a.m. (EST).