A three-way story of Rochester-area organ donation and transplantation will unfold at the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1. A trio of families will represent the many organ donors and recipients from upstate New York while riding on or walking with the Donate Life Rose Parade Float in Pasadena, Calif.
Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network and UR Medicine’s Solid Organ Transplant Programs will host a special send-off celebration for the families and staff at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 8, in the Strong Memorial Hospital Main Lobby. Monday’s event also will recognize donors and their families who selflessly give the gift of life.
“Each New Year, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network is honored to play a small part in the Rose Parade and the opportunity to spread the message about donation to such a large audience,” said FLDRN Executive Director Rob Kochik. “The Donate Life float helps to further raise awareness about organ and tissue donation and honors those who have so generously given the gift of life.”
Connections between Laurie LoMonaco, Mary Guyette and Gates Orlando will be shared during the celebration.
Altruistic Living Donation
In early 2010, Laurie LoMonaco learned about a man who donated a kidney altruistically and her immediate thought was “I can do that!” After two years of research, she initiated the process to be a living kidney donor through the UR Medicine transplant program.
LoMonaco shared her intentions with her best friends, Mary and Paul Guyette, and Paul was in awe of her willingness to endure an intense operation to help someone she didn’t even know. He thought that it was the most humble act anyone could possibly do for someone else. LoMonaco donated a kidney to a stranger on Jan. 23, 2013.
Only 10 days later, on Feb. 3, 2013, Paul Guyette was awakened by an extreme headache and collapsed almost immediately. He suffered a fatal intracranial brain hemorrhage.
His wife, Mary, remembered how LoMonaco’s experience sparked his interest in organ donation and learned that he’d talked with his father about it. Mary knew in her heart that her husband would have wanted to donate his organs, so she gave consent to share the gift of life to others.
Paul Guyette’s heart was given to Gates Orlando, a retired NHL player with the Buffalo Sabres. Orlando had been waiting for a new heart at Strong Memorial Hospital for 10 months. He was kept alive with a total artificial heart – the first person in upstate New York to receive one – and anxious to receive a new heart.
Guyette was a sports fan and his family is very proud the gift of life makes it possible for Orlando to live a full life and advocate for more people to join the organ donor registry.
Guests attending the send-off event Monday are encouraged to wear blue and green – signature colors of the organ donation cause – and wish the trio well as they celebrate the gift of life. A reception will follow the ceremony.
For information about how to become an organ and tissue donor and to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry, visit www.donorrecovery.org/. The Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, affiliated with the University of Rochester Medical Center, coordinates organ donation in 20 counties, and serves 37 hospitals in the Finger Lakes region, central and northern New York.