10-Year-Old Girl Who Saved 4 Lives as an Organ Donor Honored in Rose Parade Event
More than a year after her tragic death, 10-year-old Francine Salazar, who saved the lives of four people with organ donations, is getting her moment in the spotlight with a special display at the 2021 Rose Parade televised event.
Francine was on the way to get ice cream with her family in August 2019 when a speeding driver blew a stop sign and crashed into their van, KFSN reported.
The California fifth-grader was transported to a local hospital, and when she died three days later, her family made the difficult decision to donate her organs.
“I knew we made the right decision and know she is very happy in heaven,” her mom Hanah told the Visalia Times Delta. “She is rejoicing about our decision to donate her organs.”
Four people were saved by Francine’s gift of life, including three children who received her heart and kidneys, and a 40-year-old woman who got Francine's pancreas, according to the outlet. Dozens more were helped by the donations, PEOPLE ,previously reported.
The priceless gift has earned Francine a spot as one of 21 deceased organ donors who will be honored New Year’s Day by the nonprofit Donate Life America during the Rose Parade event.
Though the traditional float parade was canceled due to COVID, this year, a 25-foot floral installation will pay tribute to Francine and the other organ donors, KFSN reported.
"I’m pretty sure in heaven she’ll be dancing around, hopping, skipping and saying, 'Oh, I’m going to be on the TV!' " Hanah told the outlet.
"It’s a huge honor for Francine, it’s a huge honor for our family. It’s mixed emotions, because you are sad because she gave her life, but [at the] same time, she was able to save lives," dad John Blakely added, according to NBC affiliate KSEE.
Francine, a bright and bubbly child who loved dancing to K-bop bands like BTS, earned her way into the hearts of many in the area after video of the honor walk held by doctors and nurses at Valley Children’s Hospital before she donated her organs went viral.
"There is no doubt that her story has inspired others to potentially give the gift of life," Jacqueline Manzanito of Donor Network West told KFSN.
The sculpture will be on display at Tournament House in Pasadena, and Hanah told the Times Delta that she will be traveling from her home in Visalia, about 200 miles away, to see it.
"I miss her every day," she told the outlet, "and I am humbled that Francine was chosen as a floragraph honoree."
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