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3rd Annual Rose Ceremony at Baystate Medical Center honors organ, eye and tissue donors

December 10, 2015
Rose Ceremony

It was an emotional, yet inspiring, afternoon in the Tolosky Living Room at Baystate Medical Center on Wednesday (Dec. 9) where the hospital’s Transplant Services, along with LifeChoice Donor Services, held the 3rd annual Rose Ceremony honoring our organ, eye and tissue donors.

A symbol of love, loss, and renewal

As part of the ceremony, roses were presented to families in attendance whose deceased loved ones had donated their organs so others could continue on with their lives.

A rose is a symbol of love, loss and renewal. It represents something different to everyone; to some it is a symbol of hope, or an expression of grief, and to others it is a gift of gratitude. The ceremony at Baystate was based on the concept behind the Donate Life float in the annual Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day.

The Rose Dedication Garden is an opportunity to honor donors, families, recipients and candidates waiting for transplant with a personalized rose placed on the Donate Life Rose Parade® Float inspiring tens of millions of people nationwide to save lives as donors.

Each dedicated rose is placed in a vial that carries a unique, personal message of love, hope and remembrance, and honors donors, recipients and others touched by organ, eye and tissue donation. Altogether, thousands of roses create a Dedication Garden that is a featured design element on the Donate Life float each year. Baystate Medical Center is sponsoring five rose vials on the float.

Sharing their stories

Among the many speakers participating in the Rose Ceremony was Daisy Hernandez, who is embracing her new life.

The 34-year-old Hispanic mother from Springfield received a new lease on life after receiving a kidney transplant at Baystate Medical Center.

Hernandez was diagnosed at age 17 with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a relatively common kidney disease in the United States. She had been on dialysis since 2006.

“I have constantly prayed for the family of my deceased donor. They are way stronger than I’ve ever been,” she told Wednesday afternoon’s crowd.

“What greater gift can you give but of yourself, so that others will live on. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Dr. Ronald Gross, chief, Trauma, Acute Care Surgery and Surgical Critical Care at Baystate, who was introduced at the ceremony as a “champion of organ donation.”

The crowd was also serenaded by the Spectrum A Cappella Ensemble, under the direction of Sarah Armstrong, from the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School.

The event ended with the raising of the Donate Life flag – overseen by Vernette Townsend, MSN, RN, director, Medical Nursing and Transplant Services, and Pam Fisk, RN, Transplant Services manager at the hospital – located outside the front entrance of the Daly Building.

Learn more about organ transplants and donations

Currently there are more than 120,000 men, women and children awaiting organ transplants in the United States. Sadly, only a fraction of them will have their wishes fulfilled this year. Even sadder, some 18 patients die daily while waiting for an organ transplant.

About 150 people are added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list each day – that’s one every 10 minutes. At Baystate Medical Center alone, over 170 people are on the hospital’s donor list waiting for a life-enhancing new kidney for transplant. And, despite the fact that some 46 percent of adults in the United States are registered as organ, eye and tissue donors – nearly half of the population – it is still not enough.

To learn more about becoming a living kidney donor, call Baystate Medical Center’s Transplant Services at 413-794-2321. To learn more about organ and tissue donation, contact LifeChoice Donor Services at 1-800-874-5215. Also, for more information on Baystate Medical Center, visit

Photos: Little Karyna Delgado of Holyoke, whose grandmother Grisel Pagan was an organ donor; Daisy Hernandez who received a lifesaving kidney transplant