“I’m grateful that my family and I have been blessed with generally good health. Perhaps this was a way to express that gratitude.”
The Donate Life float’s riders and floragraph honorees represent millions of people touched by organ and tissue donation. Riders must have a personal connection to donation as the family member of a deceased organ, eye or tissue donor; a living organ donor; or a recipient of an organ, tissue or cornea transplant.
Dr. Haemmerle, an orthopedic surgeon, has dedicated his career to helping patients overcome illness and injury. But, in his mind, that just wasn’t enough. So, on Feb. 9, 2010, he donated his left kidney to someone he had never met, a carpenter and farmer from rural Minnesota who has four children.
“It just felt like the right thing to do for a fellow human being,” says Dr. Haemmerle. “I’m grateful that my family and I have been blessed with generally good health. Perhaps this was a way to express that gratitude.”
But Dr. Haemmerle underestimated the ongoing positive impact the donation would have on him. “I’ve gained much more from the experience than I’ve given,” he says. “I’m aware every day that life is a precious gift, and I’m grateful for my health, my family and all of the opportunities life offers. I hope I have many more years of good health, and I hope my left kidney will outlive me.”
Dr. Haemmerle will join 28 other riders from across the nation on this year’s float, the organization’s ninth entry in the parade. The float is inspired by floral clocks and clock towers from around the world. Six enormous floral timepieces will be adorned with 72 memorial floragraphs, floral portraits of deceased donors whose gifts gave life and time to others. A rose dedication garden honors more than 3,000 people worldwide, with each rose bearing a vial with a personal message honoring a loved one. Anchoring the float is a 33-foot clock tower with an animated sun/moon dial -- a reminder to make each passing day count.
More than 110,000 Americans and their families await lifesaving organ transplants. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people need donated tissue to prevent or cure blindness, heal burns or save limbs. Millions more benefit from blood donations.
Mayo Clinic has one of the largest and most experienced transplant practices in the United States, with campuses in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. With a legacy of quality and excellent outcomes, more than 200 doctors in transplant medicine and surgery perform about 1,400 transplants a year. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org/transplant.
Donate Life is a not-for-profit alliance of local affiliates and national organizations dedicated to inspiring all people to donate life through organ, eye and tissue donation. Donate Life and Mayo Clinic hope that anyone who has not yet registered will be inspired by Donate Life’s float to join the 100 million Americans who have checked ‘Yes’ for donation when applying for or renewing their driver’s license or identification card. A person can sign up as an organ, eye and tissue donor by visiting www.donatelife.net.