Former Transplant Patients at Loma Linda University Medical Center and Children’s Hospital hope to inspire others as Float Riders at 2013 Rose Parade

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The two will join 30 other Donate Life float riders from across the U.S., whose journeys of courage will undoubtedly inspire the nation and the world.

Ernesto Bravo Chavez (left); Leilah Dowsari, with her baby, Gabriel. Chavez and Dowsari will grace the 2013 Donate Life Rose Parade Float as float riders.

Two former organ transplant patients at Loma Linda University Medical Center and Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital will bring hope to others as riders of the inspiring Donate Life float at the 2013 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

Ernesto Bravo Chavez, 12, of Palm Springs, received a kidney transplant when he was five years old. He has since become very close to the family of his donor, Gabriel Barajas, of Los Angeles, an Iraq veteran who was part of the Special Forces Team that captured then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Leilah Dowsari, 26, of Loma Linda, made international news in 1986 as “Baby Eve,” the first female newborn to receive a heart transplant. Two more heart transplants in the quarter-century since her historic procedure, she now has a baby of her own, Gabriel, born in 2011.

The two will join 30 other Donate Life float riders from across the U.S., whose journeys of courage will undoubtedly inspire the nation and the world. Since 2004, the Donate Life Rose Parade Float has served as a memorial to organ and tissue donors and a platform for donor families, living donors, and transplant recipients to inspire the world to save and heal those in need through the gift of life.

Loma Linda University Medical Center and Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital have been strong supporters of the organ transplantation cause and have regularly sponsored riders for the Donate Life float over the years. Chavez is a sponsored rider of Loma Linda University Medical Center Transplantation Institute, while Dowsari is sponsored by the Order of St. Lazarus.

Ernesto Bravo Chavez was three years old when he started becoming sick, leading him to start dialysis and be listed for a kidney transplant. After months of staying at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, he received a kidney transplant from Gabriel Barajas, whose life had been cut short by an accident on the highway. Barajas’ portrait will also be featured in a floragraph that will adorn the float.

“My donor, Gabriel Barajas, is a hero to me,” Chavez said. “Besides being a soldier, he gave me a second chance to live; without my hero, I would not be a normal kid.”

Leilah Dowsari was the first newborn ever listed on the national waiting list. She received a heart from 10-day-old infant, on her 17th day of life, in a groundbreaking procedure performed at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

That heart, and two others after it over the years, made it possible for her to live and, now, have a baby of her own.

“I’ve always been optimistic,” she said. She aspires to be a photographer and has been interested in a career in nursing. She also desires to thank the families of her donors in person.

Photo caption: Ernesto Bravo Chavez (left); Leilah Dowsari and her baby, Gabriel

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About Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC)
Loma Linda University Medical Center’s comprehensive health system includes: Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center East Campus, Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center, Loma Linda University Heart & Surgical Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center - Murrieta, and physician clinics. LLUMC is widely respected as a health care leader and is known for its pioneering and cutting-edge work in such areas as organ transplants, proton treatment for cancers, cardiac care, physical rehabilitation, acute pediatric and adult care, as well as treatments for chemical dependence and other behavioral disorders. LLUMC is the only Level 1 trauma Center in the San Bernardino, Riverside, Inyo, and Mono counties, which covers over 40,000 square miles in Southern California. With a total of 1,076 beds, the Loma Linda University Health System includes the only children’s hospital in the region. Loma Linda University Medical Center sees over 30,000 inpatients and more than 590,000 outpatient visits a year.

About Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital - LLUCH
The Children’s Hospital is the only dedicated children’s hospital in the vast geographic region of the San Bernardino, Riverside, Inyo and Mono counties. With 277 beds dedicated just for kids, one of the largest Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) in the country, and more than 100,000 children who come each year, LLUCH is a major pediatric teaching facility for Loma Linda University and is part of the Loma Linda University health care system. Known worldwide as the pioneer of neonatal heart transplantation, LLUCH has performed more infant heart transplants than any other center of its kind.

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Herbert Atienza
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