ALACHUA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--RTI Donor Services, a not-for-profit tissue recovery agency dedicated to serving donor families and working in collaboration with the donation community and healthcare facilities in perpetuating the gift of tissue donation, is pleased to announce that the organization is continuing its sponsorship of the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Rose Parade.
RTI Donor Services has the honor of sponsoring both a donor family and tissue recipient to participate in the 2016 Donate Life Rose Parade Float. Our sponsored tissue donor, 17-year-old Meagan Rickman of Jacksonville, Fla., will be memorialized through a special portrait called a floragraph, which will adorn the float. Meagan’s floragraph is decorated with grains, flowers, seeds, spices and other organic materials. Meagan’s family will have the opportunity to place the finishing touches on her floragraph in December at a special ceremony in Florida. RTI Donor Services’ sponsored tissue recipient and float rider is Beth Adler-Bush of Hamilton, NJ. Bush is a veterinarian whose life was restored after receiving a tissue transplant following an injury resulting from a fall.
RTI Donor Services is sponsoring both families’ trips to Pasadena to participate in the Rose Parade festivities, culminating in watching Beth riding the float featuring Meagan’s floragraph travel down Colorado Avenue.
About the Donate Life Float
RTI Donor Services has been a sponsor of the Donate Life Float since its inception in the Rose Parade in 2004. This year’s Donate Life Float, "Treasure Life's Journey," proudly represents the 2016 Rose Parade theme, "Find Your Adventure."
Like an oasis discovered amidst a caravan's journey across the desert, organ, eye, and tissue donation saves lives, renews hope, and sustains people, families, and communities. The float features a colorful caravan with 60 donor medal-inspired floragraphs that honor the invaluable treasure of the gift of life. Twenty-four float riders continue to share in life's adventures through the gift of organ and tissue donation. Sixteen living donors will walk beside the float carrying provisions of fruit accented with flowers, symbolizing the life-sustaining gifts that have been given. And, dedicated roses placed by families create floral jewels that ornament the base of the float. The 127th Rose Parade will take place on Jan. 1 at 8 a.m. (PST). For more information on the Donate Life float, visit the official website at www.donatelifefloat.org.
Meagan Rickman’s Story
Meagan Rickman was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare heart defect where the heart is critically underdeveloped. At nine weeks old, she received her first heart transplant and a second transplant at 12. At the time of her passing at age 17, she was on the waiting list for her third heart transplant.
According to Meagan’s mother, Holly Nix, Meagan never let her health problems define her. “While she had immense hope for her future, she knew that she didn’t want to waste a moment,” said Holly.
Meagan wanted to be a teacher and a mother when she grew up. “She loved younger kids and was a natural around them. They adored her,” Holly said.
On December 8, 2013, Meagan unexpectedly collapsed in her bedroom, causing Holly to perform CPR on her as she waited for the ambulance. Once Meagan gained consciousness, she noticed strangers in her room and immediately started cracking jokes. In the ambulance, just 20 minutes after she was revived, she was asking the ambulance driver if they could swing by Taco Bell on the way to the hospital.
“Seriously, she was a hoot!” Holly said. She told a doctor once that she was the “sickest, healthiest kid he would ever take care of.” Her attitude was infectious and impacted all of those fortunate to know her.
That Tuesday afternoon, Meagan passed away during surgery.
After being on the receiving end of organ donation twice, Holly granted Meagan’s wishes to be a donor. “How could we decide to do anything else?” Holly said. In remembrance of Meagan and her donation, Meagan’s family made bracelets with Meagan’s name along with “Live - Love - Donate,” and passed them out to over 650 people.
Beth Adler-Bush’s Story
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” said Beth Adler-Bush, a patellar ligament recipient. “There are no words to truly describe how grateful I am.”
Beth is a very active mother and veterinarian. She loves interacting with animals and enjoys going to the gym to “blow off steam.”
While decorating her house for Halloween 2014, she fell from a ladder and landed directly on her knee. A trip to the ER confirmed no broken bones. But, a trip to the orthopedist and an MRI confirmed a ruptured critical ligament in her knee known as her ACL.
“My ACL was obliterated,” she said. “It looked like someone set a firecracker off inside it.”
She had no idea how much of her daily routine depended on her ACL. “Dancing with my 7-year-old son at his karate banquet became impossible. When Santa Clause came to my neighborhood on the fire truck, merely jogging down the driveway so I could make sure my boy got to meet him left me in a ton of pain. As a veterinarian, it became extremely difficult to kneel down to say hi to my feline patients.”
After learning she needed reconstructive surgery and that a donor’s patellar ligament would be used to reconstruct her ACL, Beth immediately knew she wanted to write a note to the donor family thanking them for her new patellar ligament.
“Somebody gave up part of his or her own knee so I could have mine back?!” she said. “I learned first-hand just how much that donation meant to a recipient.”
Beth said she never thought about how many people’s lives could be improved through becoming a tissue donor. “I had no idea that by becoming a tissue donor, I could also be that hero,” she said. “Never did I think about the people who would receive my own patellar ligaments for their own torn ACLs, the burn victims who would receive my skin for grafts and the blind who would receive my corneas or lenses so they could see again.”
She said she learned from personal experience that through donation, someone’s world can be saved.
Today, more than 122,500 children and adults await life-saving organ transplants in the United States. Hundreds of thousands more are in need of a tissue transplant to save or greatly enhance the quality of their lives. Visit www.donatelife.net/register-now to find out how to designate your donation wishes in your state.