LB resident Glenn Matsuki promotes organ donation on Rose Parade float
2009-12-31 · By Editor
The seventh annual Donate Life Rose Parade float will dramatize the remarkable difference that organ and tissue donation makes to those in need of transplants. The float entry, New Life Rises, is designed to inspire viewers to give the gift of life by signing up to be organ and tissue donors on their respective state registries.
Donate Life’s new creation features a phoenix, the mythical symbol of life coming out of the ashes of death, rising from a bed of flames into the sky. The phoenix represents those who give life in their passing and the people whose lives are renewed through transplantation. The bird soars high above 24 float riders – all transplant recipients, living donors, and family members of deceased donors. The phoenix’s tail feathers are adorned with dozens of floragraphs – portraits created with floral materials – that depict loved ones who gave life to those in need.
One of the float riders will be Long Beach resident and heart transplant recipient Glenn Matsuki.
In 1995, Glenn caught a flu that progressed to congestive heart failure, and within five weeks he was in need of a heart transplant. His 11 weeks on the transplant waiting list were filled with reminders that his heart might stop at any moment.
“Everything I did was labored. I continually gasped for breath to catch enough air, my heartbeat and breathing was entirely out of sync,” recalled Glenn. “I was down to 135 pounds from my normal 165 and declining rapidly. Flesh just hung from my skeletal frame. My fingertips were turning blue.”
After his transplant, Glenn said that he “could feel that it was a good heart immediately. There was a good aura that passed through my body with every contraction. My dreams were sweet, ethereal, filled with bright colors of rebirth.” Glenn’s post-transplant recovery still holds the record at Cedars-Sinai-Sinai Medical Center.
In gratitude for his renewed life, Glenn asserted, “It was a no-brainer that I had to devote the remainder of my life to honor my donor.”
Glenn was a “Heart Families” volunteer at Cedars-Sinai for nine years and program administrator for the Liver and Kidney Transplant Program. In 2006, the Long Beach resident became a hospital services coordinator with OneLegacy, the organ and tissue recovery organization serving the seven-county greater Los Angeles area. “I work with hospitals to recognize that compassionate end-of-life care can bring meaning and comfort through the donation process. It is the right thing to do.”
Today Glenn runs a popular national blog on organ donation and is active in the Long Beach community. Each April he contributes to National Donate Life Month observances and has inspired the mayor and city council members to take the donation cause to heart. His activities all work towards encouraging others to register to become donors.
The Donate Life float adds a meaningful dimension to the 2010 Rose Parade theme, 2010: A Cut Above the Rest.
“Each year in the U.S., about 28,000 lives are saved through the gift of organ donation, while hundreds of thousands of people receive donated corneas and tissue to prevent or cure blindness, heal burns, save limbs and restore mobility,” said David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America. “We hope the beauty and boldness of New Life Rises inspires parade spectators and viewers to rise up and join the more than 82 million Americans who have registered as organ, eye and tissue donors, helping us reach our national goal of 100 million designated donors.”