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Victims of Venice Plane Crash Remembered For Their Gifts of Life Through Organ & Tissue Donation

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – (May 4, 2016) – On New Year’s Day 2016, Ommy Irizarry, and his daughter, Oceana, were memorialized and remembered for both the lives they led and their gifts of organ and tissue donation with floral portraits, called floragraphs, on the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. Friday, May 6th, at 10:00 am, those floragraphs will be presented to the Irizarry family at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in the Education and Conference Center.

“Planes just don’t fall from the sky, let alone fall from the sky on my family on one of the best days of our lives,” remembers Rebecca Irizarry of the accident that impacted her life forever. That morning, July 27, 2014, started as another day of beach vacation to celebrate her ninth anniversary with her husband, Ommy, and their children. It ended in tragedy, as a plane literally did fall from the sky onto Caspersen Beach in Venice, FL, immediately claiming Ommy’s life, and ultimately taking daughter, Oceana, who was treated at John’s Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Rebecca, an Army combat veteran and a licensed practical nurse, had discussed end of life wishes with Ommy. He had made a career of the military, and was a Sergeant stationed at Ft. Stewart near Savannah, Georgia. Even in the midst of loss, Rebecca chose life for others through organ and tissue donation.

“Yes, of course. This is one hundred percent what he wanted,” Rebecca says of Ommy, “and although my sweet angel at nine-years-old was never introduced to the idea of organ and tissue donation, it is what she wanted as well. Through this entire experience, it was the easiest decision to make.” Oceana saved the lives of three people, and Ommy’s gift of tissue donation changed the lives of potentially dozens of others.

There are more than 121,000 people awaiting the gift of a lifesaving organ transplant in the United States, over 5000 of whom are listed at Florida transplant centers, and tens of thousands more could benefit from tissue donation. Organ and tissue donation, with the primary exception of living kidney donation, takes place after death.

“As health care providers for children, we save lives and help miracles happen every day,” says Thomas Nakagawa, M.D., chief of the division of Critical Care Medicine and director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “The gift of organ donation allows the legacy of a loved one to live on by providing the greatest gift of all, the gift of life. As one life ends, another life is healed through the miracle of organ donation and transplantation.”

Register today as an organ and tissue donor. Visit www.LifeLinkFoundation.org for more information, or call us at 800-262-5775.

LifeLink of Florida is a non-profit community service organization dedicated to the recovery of organs and tissues for transplantation.  To register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.DonateLifeFlorida.org.