Transplant patient heads to Rose Bowl
One of the grandest events in the nation’s New Years celebration is the famous Rose Bowl Parade in California. This year, one of Brookhaven’s own will be riding across Pasadena on one of the rose covered floats to bring attention to a noble cause.
Jimmy Lynch will be perched on the Donate Life Rose Parade Float next to a picture of 17-year-old Allen Janohosky who gave Lynch the gift of life.
“He gave me 12 years of life that I really didn’t expect at that time in my life,” Lynch said. “I did not know what the next day or next week held. We couldn’t plan anything. Now I get to. I get to go to church. I get to plan for vacations.”
In 1979 Lynch was 16 and was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. For years he battled with an unruly blood sugar level until 2002 when he was put on dialysis and was in desperate need of both a kidney and pancreas transplant. He was put at the top of the transplant list, and he, his wife and three sons just waited.
“I didn’t know if I’d get to see my oldest son graduate from high school,” said Lynch. “No less, I had a two year old still. I didn’t know what was going to happen to him.”
In 2002, Janohosky decided to go on an adventure trip in the Smokey Mountains to raft down the Ocoee River rapids. He set off on a road trip from his home in Minnesota to Tennessee. The day after successfully taking on the rafting challenge, he tragically died in a vehicle accident.
Only one year before the incident, Janohosky said “yes” to organ and tissue donation on his driver’s license, and because of that, he saved the lives of five people and helped one to see through cornea donation. The 17-year-old from Minnesota was able to save the life of a husband and father in Mississippi.
“I just thank God that I am able to overcome the last 12 years and see my oldest one graduate and get married and my now 14-year-old grow up to what he has become. That’s what touches me,” Lynch said. “At that time you are receiving a gift, you are also thinking about that other family and what they are going through – their grief from having to lose a loved one.”
Lynch was able to meet the Janohosky family in Minneapolis during the 2004 Transplant Games.
“It’s like meeting somebody you don’t know but you love them. You have that special bond with them. You just tear up and cry right there. Both of us did,” Lynch said about meeting Janohosky’s mother. “We just said there and hugged and held each other for 15 to 20 minutes, and she didn’t want to let go of me. I’m the only person out of the organs that he donated that has had any contact with her at all.”
Lynch has stayed in contact with his donor’s mother since that first meeting. Earlier this year he was nominated to ride on the Donate Life Rose Parade Float and was one out of 30 who were chosen.
“We are thankful of all donor families and of anybody that donates,” Lynch said.
He added he encourages everyone to register to become an organ donor.
Lynch said he and his family are excited to not only visit California for the first time but to be able to recognize all organ donors and especially Janohosky for their selfless act of kindness.
The Rose Bowl parade will be Jan. 1 from 8 to 10 a.m. For more information visit tournamentofroses.com or donatelifefloat.org.
To register to become an organ donor, visit www.donatelifems.org.