Once again, UK HealthCare will send roses and messages of hope to Pasadena, California for inclusion in the Donate Life float as part of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. On Monday, the university paid tribute to 30 families whose loved ones posthumously gave so that others might live. Dr. Andrew Bernard, chief of trauma surgery at UK HealthCare, says more than 750 Kentuckians currently are on a waiting list for an organ or tissue transplant.
"We see families whose hearts and lives are broken as they say goodbye to family members and loved ones, and at the same time, graciously consider giving important gifts to others."
One of those grateful recipients is Tony Ocampo, who underwent a kidney transplant earlier this year.
"I think probably I am living proof of that it's something that should be done and can be done very easy. Our daughter just got her permit and she'll be getting her drivers' license, her full-fledged drivers' license in February and she already told me the first thing I'm going to do is sign the back of my drivers' license and that's what I would encourage everybody to do."
Ocampo and his wife, Lisa, say they will watch the Rose Parade with a lot more emotion this year.
"It's going to be a whole new meaning to what that float is all about because I think in the past it was just something that you watched and now, whether you want to or not, you are a part of it", said Tony. Lisa agreed: "Organ donation for everyone in our family, on both sides has brought a whole new meaning to our life."
To date 33 hospitals, transplant centers and organizations have dedicated more than 1,300 roses to donors for the 2012 float.
The parade will be broadcast nationally on Monday January 2nd beginning at 11 am.