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Loma Linda U Medical Center Touts Transplant Recipients in Rose Parade

Ernesto and Leilah will be with 30 other people from across the United States on the Donate Life float in the 2013 Rose Parade, according to a spokesman.

A boy and a woman who received organ transplants at Loma Linda University Medical Center and Loma Linda University Children's Hospital are going to ride a float in the 2013 Rose Parade on New Year's Day, an LLUMC spokesman announced Thursday.

Ernesto Bravo Chavez, 12, of Palm Springs, received a kidney transplant when he was five years old, Herbert Atienza of Loma Linda University Medical Center said in a statement.

"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" in 2003, Atienza said.

Leilah Dowsari, 26, of Loma Linda, received a heart transplant as a newborn in 1986, Atienza said.

Dowsari was "the first female newborn to receive a heart transplant," her treatment became international news, and she was known then as "Baby Eve," Atienza said.

She has received two more heart transplants since 1986, and today she has a baby of her own, Gabriel, born in 2011, Atienza said.

Ernesto and Leilah will be with 30 other people from across the United States on the Donate Life float in the 2013 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Atienza said.

"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," Atienza said.

Chavez is a sponsored rider of the Loma Linda University Medical Center Transplantation Institute, and Dowsari is sponsored by the Order of St. Lazarus, Atienza said.

Ernesto was three years old when he started becoming sick, Atienza said. He underwent dialysis and was 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," Atienza said.

Barajas' portrait will be featured in a floragraph that will adorn the float, Atienza said.

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

In 1986, Leilah was the first newborn ever listed on the national waiting list for a heart transplant, according to Atienza.

"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," Atienza said.

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

"I've always been optimistic," Leilan said.

She aspires to be a photographer and has been interested in a career in nursing, according to Atienza. She also wants to thank the families of her donors in person.

For more information about the Tournament of Roses and the 124th Rose Parade in Pasadena visit www.tournamentofroses.com.

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