Organ Donation: The Ultimate Gift

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- In April, a family experienced a pain that for many would be unimaginable.

(Photo: Nick Johnson)

One man -- a loving son and brother -- died suddenly, but his family shared with 13 News how his giving nature he is remembered for is now living on.

John Rosado, a 27-year-old from New York, had moved down to Bowling Green with his sister Connie. After suffering a sudden asthma attack, he was taken to Med Center Health. The rest of his family came to his bedside as soon as they could.

As the days went on, John's health depleted -- and he was soon pronounced brain dead.

"I was with him through the last several tests he had made, and Sandra had - she knew in her heart and that we were probably going to be telling her that news. She had told me several things that, that wasn't her John anymore -- that was John, but it wasn't John," said Jordan Keen, an ICU registered nurse who cared for John.

John was the family's firstborn and big brother of three others, and his family call him the life of the party.

"He just loved when people were happy," said his mother, Sandra Rodriguez. "He impacted so many people's lives just with his presence-- as soon as he walked into the room, you know he was there."

Following the news that John was not going to make it, his family found that he was in fact a registered organ donor.

"I wasn't surprised at all, just because knowing John, I know that that's something he would want. So even if he wasn't an organ donor, that's something that we would've done -- definitely -- because that's who he is.

"And his attitude would have been like, 'Well, I'm not going to need my organs; you might as well bless somebody else with them,'" Rodriguez said with a smile.

"You can take a horrible, horrible, tragic event that is very hard to find a positive out of," said Keen. "And the positive that you can find out of the whole situation is he was able to impact lives of people he never met, and give people the chance to live a life again."

The hospital and John's family decided to hold an honor walk for John -- where he was led to the operating room. Hundreds of Med Center Health staff lined the halls, standing silent and steadfast, as Sandra and Connie helped push John to a new way for his legacy to live on.

"We surrounded them with love and support so that that wouldn't be such a lonely walk even though it was incredibly hard for them. We were supporting them," explained Leslie Rossetter, director of medical services.

The quality John may be remembered most for by those who never even met him, is being a giver.

"For him to want to continue to give after he's gone -- that's like the ultimate gift you can give someone," said Rodriguez.

John was able to donate his heart, kidneys and liver to two other people. Rodriguez recently received a letter from one of the recipients, highlighting just what an impact her son's gift was able to have. Still, so many other people are hoping to receive a miracle from givers like John.

Across the country, 114,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving transplant, according to Donate Life Kentucky. 22 people die everyday in wait.

“Everything has to line up just right, and so it’s important that we put out the most opportunities for success out there, so that anyone who needs an organ or needs some type of medical treatment with a transplant, has that ability or opportunity to at least attempt it," explained Keen.

Though thinking about or discussing what should be done if something were to happen to you can feel strange, it's encouraged to figure out your plan ahead of time, so that your family doesn't have to.

“It’s a very honorable thing to be able to provide someone with a better life or even the ability to live. And we never know when something’s going to happen; there’s no one here on earth that knows when our last day is," said Keen. "Oftentimes it’s hard for our families to make those decisions, and so if we can make them for them before they get to that point, it’s a very important thing to do.”

No one knew that John's life would be cut short, and as the months pass, those who love him think of him all the time.

"He's all around us; I mean, everything reminds us of him," said Connie Rosado, John's sister.

His family is now sharing their story to highlight the impact and way lives can be improved by simply making the decision to give after you're gone.

"We're able to help people while we're alive, but to be able to continue to do that once we're gone -- it's just a gift," said Rodriguez.

"We all have something to offer. And when we get to the point where we're no longer going to live, and we are going to pass, if we have anything that's useful that can be used to help someone live or help them live a better life, then why not?" said Keen.

Registering to become an organ donor takes very little time. You can go to this website to do so.

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