Mission Hospital dedicates garden to honor organ, tissue, eye donors for gift of life


June Melford takes a photo of the name of her husband that is memorialized on the new Organ, Tissue and Eye Donor Memorial at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo on Wednesday, November 30, 2016. Families of donors were on hand for the dedication of the Lifted Spirits Garden wher the wall is located. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)
MISSION VIEJO – From the moment he got his driver’s license, Michael Belko knew he wanted to be an organ donor.

A student at the University of California, Irvine and an advocate for the nonprofit Donate Life, Belko had the opportunity in 2009 to ride on a Rose Parade float, designed by the organization, that featured books and butterflies.

Belko passed away in 2011 at age 20 after a fall, but his legacy lived on because of the pink dot on his driver’s license, signifying he would be a donor.

“It was his choice,” said Denise Belko, Michael’s mom. “He had a heart for helping people and he talked his family into being donors.”

On Wednesday night, Denise and David Belko, Michael’s father, were among 225 family members of organ, tissue and eye donors at the dedication for Mission Hospital’s Lifted Spirits Garden – its centerpiece a steel sculture with blue and green butterflies made of titanium. The garden honors the donors and their families. Continue reading
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