ORLANDO, Fla. - One person can save up to eight others, if he or she chooses to become an organ donor.
That's the lesson Chris Dawkins said he hopes people remember when they see the face of his 19-year-old daughter Brooke Dawkins on a new digital memorial at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
"She had a way of making people feel like they really mattered," Dawkins said, remembering his daughter.
Her biography and photographs are now recognized on a wall inside the hospital to honor organ donors and recipients.
"These heroes are never recognized, so I wanted a place where they can be recognized," Dr. Jeffrey Sadowsky, a critical care physician with Orlando Regional Medical Center, said.
Five years ago, Brooke Dawkins, a sophomore at the University of Central Florida, was hit by a truck while crossing Alafaya Trail near campus.
"Getting that call that she had been in an accident and it was very serious and we needed to go to the hospital was a life changing moment that we'd really give anything to have never experienced," Dawkins said.
A traumatic brain injury killed Brooke Dawkins, but doctors told her parents she could still help give five other people the strength to live.
"Her organs were in perfect shape and for them to just be wasted, it just not the right thing to do," Dawkins said.
Translife Organ and Tissue Donation Services helped to donate Brooke's heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and both corneas. Two recipient families have met the Dawkins family.
Since then, Orange County officials approved $8.8 million to make safety improvements near the campus with a portion of the project funded by the university.
According to her dad, Brooke Dawkins registered as an organ donor when she first got her learner's permit at the age of 15.
"We found a thumb drive, a USB drive, that she had and on there was a presentation she had done for her speech class and it was called 'Have a Heart, Give a Heart' and it was about organ donation," Dawkins said. "It was a reinforcement, what we already knew, we did the right thing."
Because it's digital, the Wall of Heroes will continue to grow and change as more donors and recipients give consent through Translife Organ and Tissue Donation Services.
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