2014 Rose Parade Float Will Feature Arkansas Baby Who Died 5 Days after Birth

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LITTLE ROCK, AR – The legacy of an Arkansas newborn who gave the gift of organ donation upon his death at only 5 days old was honored this morning.

Jesse and Jodie McGinley, of East End. unveiled their late son’s floragraph image (that will be part of a float in the 2014 Rose Parade) in a ceremony in the lobby gallery of the UAMS Medical Center.

Elijah Cole McGinley was born in 2009. He was prayed for long before he was born. At his parents’ 20-week ultrasound, the tech excitedly informed them that Jodie was carrying twin boys. But at that appointment, their high-risk pregnancy specialist told them unfortunate news: one of the babies appeared to have a neural tube defect, spina bifida, which causes paralysis of the lower extremities. They knew they were going to have a challenge ahead of them, but they were prepared for it.

On August 3, 2009, at 36 weeks, the McGinleys welcomed Eli (6lbs 3oz) & Walker (5lbs 7oz) into their lives. But their world quickly turned upside down days later when Eli’s medical team informed them that testing showed Eli’s condition was much more severe than initially thought. Understanding Eli’s grim prognosis, the McGinleys immediately knew what they had to do; give another baby the opportunity at life so another family would have the chance to keep their baby in their arms.

Surrounded by his family, Eli was taken off of life support when he was three days old. Expecting only minutes with him, to his doctor’s surprise, Eli continued to breathe on his own. The twins were reunited, and their parents were able to have photos of a smile coming across Eli’s precious face when his little hand was laid on top of his brother’s shoulder. “The power of their love for each other was incredible,” Jodie remembered.

Eli took his last breath in the arms of his parents and beside his twin brother. It was that very day that he gave the gift of life so another child would be able to carry on, grow and become healthy again. Eli will always be perfect in his parents’ eyes. “We gave birth to a hero,” Jodie said, “and we will continue to raise Walker to know his twin brother in everything we do in his life.”

On New Year’s Day, Eli and his legacy of helping so many in medical need will be recognized at the 2014 Parade of Roses in Pasadena, where his floragraph image, along with those of dozens more organ, eye and tissue donors, will be part of the Donate Life Rose Parade Float. 

Floragraphs are artistic portraits created by using spices, seeds and other organic materials to cover a digitized photograph of the individual. The final image is realistic, recognizable and a fitting memorial to donors everywhere.

Thanks to organ donors, more than 28,000 lives are saved each year in the U.S. through their selfless gifts, giving hope to more than 110,000 awaiting a life-saving organ transplant. In addition, every year hundreds of thousands of people in need of donated corneas and tissue to prevent or cure blindness, heal burns or save limbs receive them from tissue donors like Eli McGinley.

Coordinated by Donate Life America member One Legacy, the Donate Life Rose Parade float is supported by 60 official partners from across the nation, including organ and tissue recovery organizations, tissue banks, state donor registries, transplant centers and affiliated organizations. 

The 125th Rose Parade theme is “Light up the World” and will take place Wednesday, January 1st at 10 a.m. The parade features majestic floral floats, high-stepping equestrian units and spirited marching bands showcasing the best in entertainment. 

Click here for more information about the Donate Life Rose Parade Float.


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