Bay Area Teen, Saved By Organ Transplant As A Baby, Chosen As Rose Parade® Float Rider
(San Ramon, CA) October 14, 2019 – Khalieghya Dandie-Evans, a liver transplant recipient from Richmond, Calif., was chosen by Donor Network West to ride atop the Donate Life Rose Parade® floatin the 131st Rose Parade® on New Year’s Day. She will represent the thousands of people impacted by organ and tissue donation across Northern California and Northern Nevada, the organization’s service area.
Khalieghya, 17, grew up believing it was “normal” to have received an organ transplant. She was born prematurely and diagnosed with biliary atresia soon after birth. A liver from a four-year-old donor saved her life when she was only six months old.
“Being a transplant recipient is all I have known; I thought that everybody got transplants. I am very happy to be alive today as I have lost friends due to transplant-related complications,” says Khalieghya with a bright smile.
Her smile, however, does not embody all of what she and her family went through for her to be alive today. After her transplant at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, she had to endure many medical tests, hospital visits, surgeries, and treatments.
The year 2020 is very special for Khalieghya; not only will she be a part of the Rose Parade, she will be graduating from high school with honors. Until then, she continues to advocate for organ donation as a Donate Life Ambassador with Donor Network West and volunteers with her local police department and community programs focused on mental illness and resources for the homeless. She is also a member of her high school’s Black Student Union and a multi-sport athlete.
“One family’s decision to donate gave Khalieghya and her family the hope they needed as they watched her fight to stay alive as a baby in desperate need of a transplant. We are happy to have been a part of her journey in becoming the resilient young woman that she is today thanks to the power of organ donation,” says Janice F. Whaley, Chief Executive Officer of Donor Network West.
The Rose Parade, which will take place in Pasadena, CA on January 1, 2020, will welcome an estimated 700,000 spectators and will be watched by over 70 million viewers worldwide on television. The parade’s theme, The Power of Hope, honors the opportunity to look beyond challenges of the moment and light a path to a brighter future.
The 2020 Donate Life Rose Parade® float, Light in the Darkness, shares the Power of Hope by highlighting Southeast Asia’s Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, a celebration of light shining in darkness. The float will include 70 participants from across the U.S. Twenty-six organ and tissue recipients or living donors will be atop or walk alongside the float during the parade.
Floral displays overflow from intricate vessels adorned with 44 memorial floral portraits that honor the Gift of Life and light given by deceased organ, eye and tissue donors.
Nearly 10,000 people await a life-saving organ transplant in Northern California and Nevada. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and a tissue donor can heal more than 75 others. Anyone can register as a donor at DonorNetworkWest.org or at the DMV.
Donor Network West saves and heals lives by facilitating organ and tissue recovery for transplantation and research. The organization was established in 1987 and is an official Donate Life organization accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Federally designated to serve 45 counties in Northern California and Northern Nevada, Donor Network West partners with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state-authorized donor registries. For information, visit DonorNetworkWest.org and follow us on social media: @mydnwest.