Loma Linda hospital staff pays tribute to teen who donated organs after battle with rare genetic mutation

LOMA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- Honor walks held for hospital patients about to donate their organs to others is a fairly new tradition. In the Inland Empire, one local family wanted to share their daughter's story in the hopes of bringing awareness to the desperate need for organ donation.

The staff at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital paid tribute to the gift of Isabel Prado. The 13-year-old girl's parents knew this would be the last walk they took alongside their daughter.

"She taught me personally how to be a gracious mother," said Jessica Ramirez of Chino.

The usually bustling corridor at the hospital was solemn and still as nurses, doctors and other employees honored Isabel's legacy and her final moments.

"It's very emotional to see the families come down the hallway and to see the patient. I think this is the one way as staff members we can show our respect. We can show our support," said Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurse Educator Julie Fluitt.

Isabel was born with Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic mutation that affects brain development in girls.

"She never walked. She never talked, but she had this smile that would brighten up the room. I know her daddy made her happy," Ramirez said.

Isabel's condition deteriorated during her final weeks, which were spent on life support.

"She was a gift of God. That's how I look at it. We decided to give that gift to somebody else," said Nathaniel Prado, Isabel's father.

Stephen Ford, with the nonprofit organization OneLegacy , hopes the community impact will grow as more honor walks are held.

In April, hospital officials developed a protocol for honor walks. "It's great to bring people together and to understand how much good can come from organ and tissue donation," Ford said.

About 114,000 people nationwide are waiting for life-saving organ transplants, including 23,000 in California alone.

"I know what parents - when they lose their loved ones, now I know how they feel. That's the reason why we're here and donating," Prado said.

Isabel's favorite song "You Are My Sunshine" played as the family said their final farewell. Each step of this honor walk brought life and hope closer to others.
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