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Rose Parade Float to Note Lompoc Hospital’s Role in Organ, Tissue Donations

A local donor's daughter now serves as an ambassador for OneLegacy, whose Donate Life float will feature a rose-covered 'Dedication Garden'

A float in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day will celebrate the lifesaving role of organ and tissue donors, like the late Stephanie Kazianka of Lompoc, and the role hospitals such as Lompoc Valley Medical Center play in facilitating the special gifts.

On Wednesday afternoon, some of Kazianka’s children and grandchildren gathered at Lompoc Valley Medical Center where her daughter Katy Wallace and hospital CEO Jim Raggio each signed a card on a rose vial that will be placed on the Donate Life float’s rose-covered “Dedication Garden.”

The Rose Parade float will travel in front millions of television viewers on Jan. 1.

Raggio wrote on her card, “The staff at LVMC are honored to play a small role in your 'gift of life.'' Nearby, one of Kazianka’s daughters signed another card.

OneLegacy, which facilitates organ and tissue donations at hospitals around Southern California, including those in Santa Barbara County, is participating in the entry, which also will feature recipients riding on the float while living donors walk alongside it.

“I just want to remind you that this is lifesaving,” said Lisa Holzman, donation development for OneLegacy.

Kazianka died in 2011 at age 60, and her kidneys, corneas and tissue went to recipients. The “exceptional woman” had nine children, plus raised 56 foster children through the years, Wallace said.

“For me, organ donation is so important because my mom was such a giver in life and she was able to continue to give so much in death,” Wallace said. “It really is the ultimate gift that you can give to anyone.”

Wallace serves as an ambassador for OneLegacy and works with the Department of Motor Vehicles in Lompoc to explain about organ and tissue donation.

“My mom made a choice so we didn’t have to make it for her,” Wallace said. “She made a choice to donate, and it made it a lot easier for us.”

Hospital staff helped facilitate the process for her mom’s donation, Wallace said, urging others to sign up for organ and tissue donation.

In her role as ambassador, Wallace has worked to end misconceptions about organ and tissue donation process.

“You’re never too old. You’re never too young. You’re never too sick to be an organ donor,” Wallace said.

The 2015 Rose Parade’s theme is “Inspiring Stories.” Fittingly, the Donate Life float’s theme is “The Never-ending Story,” because by giving organs and tissue the donors and their families “have a never-ending legacy and the recipients have a never-ending story of hope,” Holzman said.

Since 2010, the Lompoc hospital has facilitated the donations of three kidneys, one liver and a pancreas for research in addition to seven tissue donors resulting in four skin donations, a heart valve, six bone donations, eight corneas and two pericardium.

Holzman noted that the need for donors is great with 124,000 people on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ and millions awaiting a life-enhancing tissue donations. 

In Santa Barbara County, more than 140 are awaiting the donation of an organ, Holzman said. The wait for a kidney in this area is seven to 10 years. 

“Our donor families become our heroes as are our donors,” said Lisa Holzman, donation development coordinator for OneLegacy. “We take very good of them.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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