Young woman from Huron joined recipient of her mother’s lungs in Pasadena for Rose Parade

 In Stories

December 30, 2018  (Pasadena, Calif.) – Denisse Espinoza-Castro of Huron, Calif. dedicated a rose to her mother, Maria Castro Martínez, who died in 2016 and saved the life of Carolyn Dickson of Fresno with her lungs. The rose was placed on the Donate Life Rose Parade float, Rhythm of the Heart.

Denisse, a 21-year-old college student, arrived in Pasadena, CA to take part in the events leading up to the Rose Parade. She was there in support of Carolyn, Donor Network West’s sponsored float rider. Together, they dedicated a rose in Maria’s memory. Larry, Carolyn’s husband also joined them.

“Thank you for the great blessing that you are. We love you and miss you,” wrote Denisse in Spanish.

Carolyn is one of 18 transplant recipients who rode atop the Donate Life Float. She is thankful for the lease on life she got from Maria. The float was decorated in Irwindale, Calif. by volunteers from across the United States who were impacted by organ donation.

Carolyn Dickson was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in the 1970’s, a disease that affected her lungs. For the eight years prior to her double-lung transplant at UCSF in 2016, she depended on portable oxygen tanks or a concentrator to do any kind of activity.

denisse espinoza castro dedicates a rose
From right- Denisse Espinoza-Castro, Carolyn Dickson, Larry Dickson

The eighteen months she spent on the transplant waitlist inspired her to become a Donate Life Ambassador with Donor Network West, the federally designated organ and tissue recovery organization for Central and Northern California and Northern Nevada. She has taken the opportunity to share her story in her surrounding community.

Carolyn is alive today because of the generous decision of the Espinoza-Castro family to donate the organs of the family’s 37-year-old mother, Maria Castro Martinez. She and her husband, Larry, had the amazing opportunity to meet their donor family last year and have since built a special bond with them; becoming one family.