Organ donor’s family, recipients to celebrate gift of life during Rose Parade

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 19, 2014)-- From one family's tragedy to another's triumph. The Mikel and Babcock families were joined together by the kidney of a courageous 16-year-old girl who made the decision to donate her organs.

"If we could make any good come out of Kelsey's death we were gonna do that and organ donation was the beginning of that," said father, Mark Mikel.

Kelsey Mikel, 16, was in a terrible car wreck 10 years ago in Wakarusa, Indiana. Kelsey was declared brain dead the next day. That heartbreaking moment for her family was the beginning of hope for the Babcocks.

"Three days later we got the call it was a Sunday morning that they had a possible kidney match for Audrey," said mom Lisa Babcock.

"And we see Audrey and the progress that she's made as a recipient of Kelsey's kidney and it just warms our hearts and its very satisfying to know that others lived and they're lives are enhanced and their family's lives are much better because of that gift," said Mikel.

The families have bonded over the years. They're even sharing Thanksgiving together.

"It's been surreal really. What do you say to someone who lost their daughter. But it's been so special. They've accepted us as family," said Babcock.

Their stories have come full circle but there are thousands of others waiting on the donor list. So organ recipients like Julia Rejer wanted to share hope with those at IU Health Universtiy Hospital who are waiting on their gift. The families handed out roses as a way to brighten their day.

"I'm a two-time liver and kidney recipient. So its near and dear to my heart of course. I would not have been able to be here or enjoy my family. See my children grow up and see my grandchildren," said Julia Rejer.

Juila will represent the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization or IOPO on the donate life float during next year's Rose Parade at the Rose Bowl. Organ donor Kelsey will be honored with a floragraph. The Mikel family will be there to witness their daughter's giving nature live on.

"Even though we can't have what we really want, having our daughter back we can see that joy in other people's lives and be apart of that and share that with them," said Mikel.

IU Health is the states largest transplant center performing nearly 500 lifesaving solid-organ transplants each year.

One organ and tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of 50 or more people.

To register your decision to be an organ and tissue donor click here or visit your local BMV and fill out the registration form on the back of your identification card.