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Two Central Ohions Featured at 2010 Rose Parade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Dec. 04, 2009

Columbus, OH – For more than 120 years, the Tournament of Roses Parade has been an American tradition. Lifeline of Ohio, the organ and tissue recovery agency serving central and southeastern Ohio, joins the national campaign to celebrate and honor the lifesaving gifts of organ and tissue donation as part of the seventh annual Donate Life 2010 Rose Parade Float, New Life Rises. The float will be in the 121st annual Tournament of Roses Parade on Friday, January 1, 2010 at 11 a.m. EST in Pasadena, CA.

New Life Rises will include a phoenix–the mythical symbol of life coming out of death–rising into the sky representing those who give life in their death and the people whose lives are renewed by their gifts. Adorning the bird’s tail feathers are 76 floragraphs–portraits created with organic material–of deceased donors who gave life to those in need. In addition, donors from across the country are memorialized in a garden of dedicated roses, with each rose vial carrying a personal message of love, hope and remembrance.

One floragraph, sponsored by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) in cooperation with Lifeline of Ohio, will feature tissue donor, Mike Craig from Johnstown, Ohio.

Craig was a devoted husband and father to two children. He was a high school science teacher and football, basketball and track coach. He loved the game of football and touched many lives in his community. Craig died unexpectedly on June 22, 2003, and, as a registered organ and tissue donor, was able to give the healing gift of tissue, potentially impacting 50 lives.

One of the many touched by Craig’s generosity was Mike Vyrostek, of Pataskala, Ohio. In 2004, during his sophomore year at the College of Wooster, Vyrostek, suffered a serious knee injury. “I remember when it happened I was just crushed,” said Vyrostek. “I kept thinking, ‘what if I never play again?’” Vyrostek had suffered multiple knee injuries as an athlete and required a tissue transplant to continue playing football. Gail Craig learned of Vyrostek’s injury as her son, Chris, played on the same football team. Knowing her husband, Mike, was a tissue donor one year earlier, she asked if his tissue could be used to repair Vyrostek’s injury – it was Lifeline of Ohio’s first directed tissue donation. Vyrostek returned to the playing field, alongside Chris, the following season.

Vyrostek will be among 24 float riders on the Donate Life float who are comprised of transplant recipients and donor family members from across the U.S. Also sponsored by the AATB in cooperation with Lifeline of Ohio, Vyrostek will ride under Mike Craig’s floragraph on the float in honor of his tissue donor.

Vyrostek is grateful for the Craig family’s decision to direct a tissue donation to him and the Craig family finds comfort knowing that Mike Craig’s generosity helped Vyrostek continue playing the game they both loved. “Mike’s donation has been very helpful to me in the grieving process,” said Gail, “It’s something positive and I know there are so many people out there benefitting from Mike’s tissue. He would have been thrilled to know he was able to donate – especially to a football player.”

Vyrostek finished his college football career with his friend, Chris. They both graduated and began working as football coaches, continuing the legacy of Mike Craig. Vyrostek is also a high school American History teacher.

“Because of my dad, my friend is able to do the things he loves and keep playing the game,” said Mike’s son, Chris. “That’s the way he would have wanted it. If he was alive, he might have even donated his tissue to help Mike,” Chris joked.

The Donate Life float’s riders and floragraph honorees represent millions of people touched by organ and tissue donation, including donor families, their deceased loved ones, living donors, transplant recipients and transplant candidates. Riders and floragraph honorees are individually sponsored by official partners who support the Donate Life Rose Parade float financially with the hope that their stories will inspire viewers to register as organ and tissue donors.

The Donate Life float in the Rose Parade is the largest public celebration of organ and tissue donation in the country.

About Lifeline of Ohio

Lifeline of Ohio (LOOP) is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote and coordinate the donation of human organs and tissue for transplantation. Accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks, Lifeline of Ohio is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as the designated organ procurement organization (OPO) serving 37 counties in Central and Southeastern Ohio, and Hancock and Wood counties in West Virginia. Lifeline of Ohio provides services to 64 hospitals through its transplant coordinators. LOOP’s clinical staff is on call 24 hours a day to coordinate the recovery and transport of tissue and organs for transplant.

Additionally, Lifeline of Ohio offers educational presentations for professional, civic, church and social organizations, as well as elementary through college level school programs. These programs are offered year-round as a community service and are customized to meet the objectives of the particular audience. Printed materials regarding donation, as well as donor registry information, are also available from Lifeline of Ohio by calling 800.525.5667 or visiting the Web site at www.lifelineofohio.org.

Lifeline of Ohio has supported the Donate Life float since its inception in 2004.

About American Association of Tissue Banks

The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) — a professional, non-profit, scientific and educational organization — is the only national tissue banking organization in the United States. Founded in 1976, the AATB is dedicated to improving and saving lives by promoting and advancing the safety, quality and availability of donated human tissue. To fullfill that mission, the AATB publishes standards and accredits tissue banks, certifies personnel and operates a tissue network.

Additionally, AATB is a top-level benefactor of the Donate Life Float and has supported the float since it was established in 2004.

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