MUNSTER – Schererville resident Linda Ramos had one wish – to have more time to spend with her family. At 33, she had congestive heart failure, diabetes, kidney failure and was going blind.
Two-and-one-half years later, the gift of time came to Ramos in the form of a pancreas transplant from a complete stranger. She can now do something she never could before – live life to the fullest.
“My life is now amazing,” she said. “Everything I do in life now is with passion. I am at every event my daughter is in, cheering her on. I started running and have competed in more than 55 road races. I work as an occupational therapy assistant.
"But, while I want my story to touch people, my story is not about me. It is about the 120,000 people on the organ donation waiting list. They deserve the same happy ending.”
Ramos will be raising awareness about organ donation when she rides aboard the Donate Life float, representing Northwest Indiana, in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
Area families joined Ramos, Community Healthcare System staff members and Gift of Hope representatives at a ceremony to honor all organ and tissue donors Nov. 6 at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts.
At the ceremony, roses were personally dedicated to decorate the Donate Life float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Each rose sponsored by Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart will carry a tag with a message of love from a donor family.
“These dedicated roses and the tributes they carry add special meaning not only for the families of our organ and tissue donors, but serve to inspire others to become organ, eye and tissue donors as well,” said John Gorski, chief operating officer, Community Healthcare System.
Light Up the World is the name of Donate Life’s 2014 Rose Parade float entry that serves to inspire all Americans to consider organ, eye and tissue donation. To coincide with the parade theme “Dreams Come True,” the 11th Donate Life parade entry will transport 31 riders representing deceased organ, eye and tissue donors, living donors and transplant recipients.
A pathway of looping hearts representing new life after transplantation will be lined with 81 memorial floragraph portraits of donors.
Indiana residents can register their intent to be organ and tissue donors while obtaining or renewing their drivers’ license. Registration also is accepted at www.donatelifeindiana.org.