Photo courtesy of DLA
Each year, AATB sponsors one tissue recipient from an accredited institution to have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride on the Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade on New Year's Day.
The Rose Parade provides the sponsored rider and their nominating organization with an incredible opportunity to promote the life-saving and life-enhancing power of tissue donation to a national audience.
Any AATB-accredited organization may submit a tissue recipient to be considered for this opportunity.
The float rider is selected by the AATB staff.
2018 - Peter "P.J." Williams
Age 17 ~ Cleveland, OH
P.J. was diagnosed with a tumor in his tibia at just eleven years of age. A biopsy revealed that P.J. had bone cancer. He received his treatments and chemotherapy at the Cleveland Clinic where he was hospitalized until late August of 2012. He then found out that over 97% of his tumor had been eliminated by the chemo and that a new tibia was available for him, thanks to a tissue donor. Thanks to his treatment and the donated musculoskeletal tissue, P.J. is back in school and can be active in gym class and play alongside his friends again.
Now 16, P.J. is excited to get his driver license and become a registered organ, eye and tissue donor.
"Donors are heroes," P.J. says as he reflects on his experience. "To give away something like that, well, I really don't have any words for it. They just are heroes."
Photo courtesy of Lifebanc
2017 - Angela Hadfield
Recovery Coordinator in Tissue Donation
Angela was born with a congenital defect called Chiari Malformation; a malformation of the brain. In 2015, she had brain surgery to repair this defect. Her surgeon removed a small section of her skull and cut through the covering of the brain, known as the dura, which would allow the brain to have more space, and prevent further sagging of the cerebellum into the spinal canal. Because of this, an allograft patch needed to be sewn into place which allows the brain to have more room and the cerebral spinal fluid to flow more effectively to the rest of the body. Without this surgery and the generous gift of tissue, Angela may have experienced permanent nerve damage, as well as other complications such as cysts in the spinal cord, breathing problems, visual impairments, decreased strength in the extremities and even paralysis or death.
Because of this surgery, she is also able to resume her active lifestyle, which includes running, hiking and weight lifting. She was also able to continue working full time in a career that she loves as a Recovery Coordinator in tissue donation. Chiari Malformation is thought to affect 1 in 1000 people in the United States; however, most patients suffer from debilitating symptoms for years before being diagnosed. For Angela, who is an AATB certified Tissue Bank Specialist; this opportunity gave her a chance to express her gratitude to all of the families, including the families of her donors, whose generous gifts give patients like herself a new outlook on life.
Photo courtesy of Angela Hadfield
2016 - Miren Ivankovic
Bone Graft Recipient
Miren would not be active today and enjoy the quality of life he has, if it were not for another person making the decision to become a tissue donor. Miren was an avid runner for many years, competing in the South Carolina Grand Prix Circuit. Eventually, he developed arthritis in both hips and ultimately suffered pelvis damage in 2005. At that time he underwent a series of bone grafts to repair the impairment. Since his surgery, he has continued an active lifestyle, playing tennis and running as often as he can.
A member of "Team South Carolina", Miren competed in several events last year at the 2014 Donate Life Transplant Games of America in Houston, TX. He won gold medals in the Virtual Triathlon - Overall Tissue Recipient, 5K Run - Overall Tissue Recipient, 5K Run - 40-49 Male Age Group, 5K Cycling, 20K Cycling, and Track & Field - 1500 Meters. He also won a silver medal in Swimming - 500 Meters.
As a professor, Miren tells his successful transplantation story to each of his classes every semester. That translates to hundreds of students learning about donation and transplantation each year. He is also active on social media promoting organ, eye and tissue donation awareness.
Miren would not be active today and enjoy the quality of life he has, if it were not for another person making the decision to become a tissue donor. "The cause of organ, eye and tissue donation saves lives. It for sure allowed my orthopedist to repair my very damaged pelvis," states Miren. "Donation is amazing. It is a true act of giving."
Photo courtesy of Miren Ivankovic
2015 - Andy Hendel
Andy Hendel was born in 1995 in Vietnam and was adopted, along with his twin brother, into the Hendel family in 1996. "Andyman" grew up in rural Minnesota. He was active in sports and had a passion for community service. Andy died by suicide at the age of 16. He donated cardiovascular and musculoskeletal tissue and, to date, Andy's gift has helped 63 recipients across 25 states, with ages ranging from 15 to 82 years old. Andy was nominated by American Donor Services of Hastings, MN.
2015 - Adam Teller
Los Angeles, CA
Adam Teller had his 3-year-old son on his shoulders when they both fell. While his son was fine, Adam fractured a vertebrae and lost the use of his left arm. Adam had surgery to replace discs and received donor bone tissue. As a result, he now enjoys full function in his arm again. Adam is a tireless advocate and spokesperson for tissue donation. Adam was nominated by OneLegacy in Los Angeles, CA.
2014 - Edward Bonfiglio
Navy Corpsman Ed Bonfiglio was on a routine foot patrol in Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed. Bonfiglio was shot in his left leg, and due to injury to his sciatic nerve, he lost all function and feeling below his knee. He returned home and surgeons at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center presented Bonfiglio with two options: amputation of his left leg or, as he and his family elected, repair of the severed peripheral nerve with Avance® Nerve Graft, processed nerve allograft. Lt. Commander Patrick Basile, Director of Microsurgery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, performed the surgery that saved his leg. Today, Bonfiglio can walk independently and jog.
2014 - Jorge Fernandez
San Antonio, TX
Jorge Fernandez dedicated his life to helping others through service. After serving two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Air Force, Fernandez returned home to be the first member of his family to graduate from college, earning a bachelor's degree in nursing from Texas Tech University. Upon graduation, Fernandez worked in a surgical intensive care unit in San Antonio, Texas. Fernandez was a strong advocate of exercise and enjoyed running in marathons. On November 13, 2011, Fernandez collapsed and died at the finish line of the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon. He was only 32 years old. Throughout his life, Jorge was dedicated to helping others. His family honored his legacy by donating his tissues to help the lives of others. The Jorge Fernandez Scholarship Fund has been dedicated to help local students who would like to pursue a degree in nursing.