Life Alliance Hosts Organ Donation Awareness Event

Renee Jones, mother of organ donor Trevin Reddick, leaned in and listened. There, she heard the sound of her son’s heart beating in the chest of recipient Donald Anacker. Having met for the first time the night before and now joining Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency at its first Blue and Green Day awareness event, the two clung to each other while wiping away tears.

Jones made the difficult choice to have her 19-year-old’s organs donated after he was killed in a drive-by shooting. “I thought about Trevin and who he was,” Jones said. “I knew without a doubt that he would’ve said yes. But I had no idea the impact saying yes would have.”

Trevin Reddick saved four lives through his organ donation.

Many donor families and donor recipients were in the Blue and Green Day audience, following a presentation led by celebrity chef Ralph Pagano, who acted as emcee. Brief speeches were made by doctors, first responders and dignitaries. A proclamation was presented on behalf of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez that April 15 would be known as Blue and Green Day. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Dave Downey noted how firefighters knew the value of skin donation for those rescued and for their own.

“We stress the importance of organ donation because of how many lives it can save,” Downey said. “Through tissue donation we can prolong the life of burn victims.”

“The act of organ, eye and tissue donation symbolizes the best of humanity,” said Sam Salama, M.D., Executive Director of Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “The need is great. There are over 120,000 waiting. Every day 21 people lose their life while waiting for an organ donation.”

Anacker was one of those waiting, with doctors telling him that he was within two months of losing his life if a donor wasn’t found. While waiting for a transplant, he said in some ways he dreaded getting a call that a heart had been found because of the emotions he knew it would bring. But when that call came, Anacker said he felt nothing but peace.

During the event’s presentation, Anacker gave Jones an engraved stethoscope so that she could listen to Reddick’s transplanted heart. Holding each other tight, Jones and Anacker were then joined by members of Reddick’s family, who were wearing shirts emblazoned with “And the Beat Goes On,” and Anacker’s wife. The two families wrapped their arms around one another, forming a seamless circle.

“Life is precious,” Anacker said. “When I woke up [from surgery] it was a whole new life. I now have a new family that’s part of my life.”

Blue and Green Day was hosted by Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency, UMTB Donor Services Foundation, Florida Lions Eye Bank and the University of Miami’s Brain Endowment Bank.

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