Gift of Life Celebrated by Young Families

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“Faces of Donation Float” to Be Featured in Placerville Christmas Parade

(Placerville/Sacramento)  Five organ transplant recipients, along with a donor family – all from the El Dorado County area or neighboring Folsom, will ride  in the 34th Annual Placerville Christmas parade on their float entitled, “The Faces of Organ and Tissue Donation,” this Sunday, December 2nd.

The parade, which begins at noon, on upper Broadway in Placerville and moves down Historic Main Street, will be the first parade ride of his life for three-year-old liver transplant recipient, Luca Salcone of Folsom.

Just two years ago, Luca’s parents, Chris and Katie Salcone, were told Luca had liver failure and would die without a transplant.

“The doctors told us he would only last through the weekend, so we had to stay with him by his bedside.  Then, by some strike of luck, they found a donor that night, and he received a liver.”

Now, Luca is thriving, and according to his dad, “He loves to do boy things like get dirty and play with rocks and sticks outside.  He is a fun loving, good kid.”

Other children will be on the Christmas parade float, including the young son and daughter of heart recipient, Jill Thorne of Rescue.  Jill received a transplant twenty years ago at age 17.  She points out her donor brought life to three people, because she and her husband went on to have two children.

 Jill sees that as a true gift this holiday season, as only about a dozen heart transplant recipients nationwide have had two babies following transplant.

“I am so grateful to my donor,” says Jill. “Because of his decision to give life, I am alive today, and my dream of having a family has come true.”

Jill’s second child, Nolan who his mother describes as “a very active,” four year old, shares his donor’s middle name Hunter.  Daughter, Leah is now a healthy, inquisitive eight year old.

“My kids bring me so much joy and happiness, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them.”

Others who will join Luca and Jill’s families on the float include, Kim Vacarro of Placerville, whose 18-year-old son, David, received a heart transplant at age two.  Also riding in the parade, liver recipient, Linda Wright from Cameron Park, and double lung transplant recipient Debbie Jones Crane of El Dorado Hills.  Finally, the Santana family of Placerville, whose 17-year-old son Scott saved six lives as a organ donor following a fatal car accident 18 months ago, will be riding in his honor. They will be throwing out lifesavers.

Rich Santana, Scott’s dad says, “This is such an amazing time to gather together and see the gifts from donors.  While we haven’t met Scott’s recipients we like to ‘adopt’ the ones we meet!  They each seem to live, not just for themselves, but for their donors, too.”

All of the families say they are living proof of the miracles medical science and donation can bring to lives.  They urge everyone to sign up to save lives this holiday season, as it’s the best gift one can give to another.  To register for organ and tissue donation, go to: www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or sign up through the DMV.