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Donor families thank Rose Parade volunteers

December 31, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A group of volunteers at this year's Rose Parade is bringing the Donate Life float to life, and for the very first time, donor families met the float's volunteers on Thursday.It was an emotional scene in Pasadena as families thanked volunteers. The float honors the living and those who have passed on, including Frankie Hernandez of Arleta.

"We were told he had a brain aneurysm. He underwent surgery. He didn't come out of surgery," said Hernandez's mother, Erica Rangel-Baez.

When his family was asked to donate his organs, Rangel-Baez said she knew it was the right choice to donate.

"I didn't want any mother to go through what I was going through," she said.

Patty received Hernandez's small intestine, and Juan has Hernandez's heart beating inside him.

"He does things that my son would have done to make me feel as if I'm more than just a friend," Rangel-Baez said.

In total, five kids are now alive thanks to him.

One of the most emotional parts of the Donate Life float is that donor families can meet other donor families. There were at least 60 donor families in Pasadena on Thursday volunteering, and among them was knee tissue recipient Beth Vogel.

"Her life became different after her receiving this piece of knee," said Vogel's mother-in-law, Jan Rovan. Rovan said with her knee tissue, Vogel was able to walk down the aisle at her wedding with no trouble at all.

But Vogel's new husband soon became a tissue donor himself he suddenly died after a heart attack.

"I saw him fall on the floor, and I don't think he suffered," Rovan said.

Vogel said her husband's view was "if he couldn't use it, let somebody else use it."

This week, their family celebrated his birthday with their new Donate Life family.

"Our New Year's tradition was sitting in our jammies watching the parade over and over and over, so now I'm actually seeing how the floats are built and being a part of it," said Vogel.

New Year's Day lineup on ABC7:

  • 5 a.m.: ABC7 Eyewitness News at 5am
  • 6 a.m.: ABC7 Eyewitness News at 6am
  • 7 a.m.: Good Morning America Weekend
  • 8 a.m.: Tournament of Roses Parade (See prep work for the Roses Parade)
  • 10 a.m. 2011 Outback Bowl: Florida Gators at Penn State Nittany Lions

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