Donor family from Sparks, NV met their daughter’s cornea recipient for the first time

 In Stories

(Pasadena, Calif.) – December 27, 2018 was a day full of emotions for the Ponte family of Sparks, NV whose daughter, Haylee, was honored with a floral portrait on the Donate Life Rose Parade float on New Year’s Day 2019.

They arrived early in Pasadena for a very special reason; to meet Janis Drexler of Riverside, Calif., the woman who is now able to see clearly thanks to Haylee’s gift of sight.

Haylee died in 2015 at age 19 from a fatal asthma attack and went on to save and heal lives through organ and tissue donation; Janis received her right cornea. A floral portrait of Haylee adorned the 2019 Donate Life float, Rhythm of the Heart, alongside 43 other floragraphs in memory of organ, eye, and tissue donors from across the U.S.

Haylee’s floragraph was sponsored by Donor Network West, the federally recognized organ and tissue recovery organization for Northern California and Nevada.

It’s unusual for organ recipients to meet the families of their donors. Only four percent do. The Ponte and Drexler families opened this unique and rare occasion to media to encourage stories about the life-saving benefits of organ, eye, and tissue donation.

There are more than 116,000 people waiting to receive a lifesaving organ transplant; 600 reside in Nevada. Anyone can register as a donor at the DMV or at DonorNetworkWest.org.