At 30 years old, Pedro Velazquez was just getting started on what looked to be a long and promising future. After an ATV accident ended his life too soon, his family was faced with the decision of whether he would want them to donate his organs, giving the gift of life to someone else who desperately needed a second chance. Luckily, Pedro had shared his wishes of being an organ donor with his sister before his passing. This made the decision that much easier for his mother, Nancy, and father, Felix, of East Orlando.
During this most difficult time, while his family felt so lost, they were found by TransLife. This federally designated organ procurement organization provides clinical services and public education to 10 counties in east Central Florida, including Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
For the family, TransLife was a critical link between Pedro and the potential recipients of his organs. Representatives were there to advocate for them in the hospital and to provide compassionate care. “I didn’t know how the process was going to be; however, TransLife helped me to understand and made themselves available any time I needed their support,” Nancy says.
On the day his family said yes to organ donation for Pedro, he saved five lives. Later, TransLife helped them reach out to the families who received his gift of life. “There are no words to describe how I felt,” Nancy says. “The meeting with Sally, the right lung recipient, was very emotional. But the meeting with Omar, the heart recipient, not only was emotional but very special because I was able to hear my son’s heart again.”
In the years since his passing, Pedro’s family has created a quilt square in his memory that travels the country on one of five TransLife memory quilts. This December, they will celebrate his life and his willingness to give life to others at the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California. As the TransLife float parades in front of thousands of onlookers, Pedro’s face will be smiling back at his family.
Pedro’s family continues to volunteer with TransLife through the donor family aftercare program. By donating time to events the organization hosts through the year they are able to spread the word about how much organ and tissue donation can change someone’s life. They do it in honor of their son, brother and friend.
“Ultimately, organ and tissue donation creates a ripple effect throughout our community,” says Kristine Neal, manager of public relations for TransLife. “It’s not just one life that you’re saving; it’s their future children, future grandchildren and an entire community of people who love that person. One ‘yes’ can have so much more of an impact than people tend to think it does. Those that give the gift of life truly are heroes that deserve to be remembered for the legacy they left behind and the legacy they continue to make possible.”