2017 Float Walker Honorees
Meet the inspiring living donors.
Cindy Newton is a living donor to her first and only daughter Carlie. When they brought her home she seemed to be healthy. After a couple of weeks, she began to turn jaundice so Carlie was taken to the doctor where she was diagnosed with the liver disease called Biliary Atresia. This liver disease is where the bile ducts do not fully develop. Cindy was told she would need a transplant to survive. After lots of family testing, she was informed that she could be her living donor. They had the surgery on December 22, 1997. Cindy donated 20% of her lower left lobe to save her daughter’s life and couldn’t be more proud of her.Derek was on dialysis for two years after a diagnosis of end stage renal disease. He slept every night plugged into a machine that kept him alive. Derek's family was ruled out as potential donors due to a family history of kidney disease. JoAnn, his best friend, turned out to be a perfect match for the donation process. Despite Derek's and JoAnn’s varied backgrounds, JoAnn went on to donate her kidney. He owes JoAnn his life. Derek continues to keep this gift living from a very special friend by spreading the message of hope through organ donation.Dr. Veale is one of the busiest transplant surgeons in the United States, and as Associate Professor at UCLA, is the Director of the Kidney Transplant Exchange Program. As a federally funded NIH researcher, his innovative work in transplantation has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New England Journal of Medicine. It is an honor that a number of Dr. Veale's donor/recipient pairs of different backgrounds who were a "match" for kidney transplantation will be participating as Walkers in the 2017 Donate Life Rose Parade Float.In 2007, while working on a drilling rig and having trouble climbing a hill, Eric Murdock learned from the physicians that his legs had become weak and heavy due to complications from his failing kidneys contributed from high blood pressure. After spending time in the outpatient procedures to repair his dialysis access over 8 years, Eric received his first kidney transplant. But, the new kidney was not flowing blood properly and had to be removed. On March 28, 2016, Eric received a call from a UCLA coordinator that told him a match was ready. He received that gift of life from Holly Henry, who came into his room the next day to meet the recipient of her kidney. Holly and Eric are now linked for life through a chain that has connected them close enough that they call each other family.Harry Damon went to donate a kidney after his son Nick died and found himself unable to accept this loss. Harry’s been a student, a soldier, and a working man trying to provide. He is someone’s son, brother, husband and grateful father. He finally found peace by stepping forward and offering to share his health with someone in need through the miracle of transplantation. The hard work of many skillful minds and hands have created a chain of donors and recipients. Their loving gift gave renewed hope of life and happiness to those in pain and desperation.Holly Henry had always said “if anything happened to me to let them take whatever was needed.” About 2 years ago, Holly’s mom mentioned that her cousin, Niki Thorsen, needed a kidney transplant. Without hesitation, Holly agreed to the testing process. However, they weren’t a match. Their transplant coordinator then mentioned the Donor Exchange program with Dr. Veale. They were both accepted. Holly never waivered in her decision and kept Niki’s spirits up. Holly got the call mid-March, 2016. Her cousin received her kidney 4/5/16 and she donated hers on 4/7/16. Holly Henry has helped saved two lives, and is now friends with her recipient Eric Murdock.After Jeanne's husband's diagnosis of end stage renal failure, Jeanne knew something had to be done. Keenan was a Type O which is a very difficult match. Jeanne was more than willing to give her kidney despite her being a Type A. One day, they received a letter from UCLA regarding Dr. Veale’s program for a living donation chain. After anxiously waiting, on June 8, 2009, it all happened. Keenan received a new kidney from Reggie Griffin and Jeanne donated to Sonia Valencia. Sonia is thriving, Reggie is thriving, Keenan and Jeanne are thriving, and most importantly, their 3 boys have their father back.JoAnn Eiring began researching as much as she could when her friend Derek shared his diagnosis of end stage renal disease. Nine months later, Derek started dialysis and was placed on a list to receive a kidney. JoAnn immediately filled out paperwork needed to be a kidney donor. In addition, JoAnn started donating blood to find out her blood type to see if Derek and her was a match. Although there would be a wait for Derek to get to the point where he was physically ready for a transplant surgery, she was anxious to start testing to find out. JoAnn will never forget that call. They were a direct match. There was no greater feeling than being able to help save her best friend's life. Physically, JoAnn feels the same prior to the transplant surgery and Derek was able to resume his life’s journey.Keenan Cheung’s attitude is always let’s deal with this now and hope for the best. He was not shocked when receiving the news that he was in kidney failure and would need to go on dialysis and receive a transplant. Keenan’s grandfather, father, uncle and aunt have all had the same issue. However, since Keenan was Type O, he endured dialysis while waiting to find a matching donor. But one day, Keenan and Jeanne Cheung received a letter from UCLA informing them about this great new program that Dr. Veale had created as an opportunity to get a transplant, which was successful for all participants involved. Keenan reflects, "donors have all the choices and they choose… to do what they have done by making this huge sacrifice just leaves me speechless."Pattie had spent most of her young adult life in and out of hospitals with her only son Zion. She was up for the fight after two long years and sleepless nights doing dialysis at home. Pattie became frustrated with the idea of her son sitting on a kidney waiting list. She chose to donate her kidney to Zion. Pattie was a match. There would no longer be a waiting game for her only son. In April 2011, Pattie donated her kidney to her son. Pattie later became ill, but that didn't stop her from being wheeled to Zion's room to see him in the best spirits with fire back in his eyes. Pattie has since become a nurse to give families the same care she received through all her hospital stays with Zion.Reginal Arnes Griffin's mother Sheila became chronically ill while Reggie was still in high school. Kidney failure was the result of Lupus attacking her kidneys, and dialysis was the only solution for her to survive, strive, and pray for a miracle. In the beginning, Reginal’s father tried to go through the donor program and was not as successful. However, during that time they were informed about a program by Susan McGuire (UCLA donor transplant coordinator). She informed about involving themselves in a donor exchange. Within a year’s time, Sheila received her kidney on June 8th, 2009. Now, Reginal watches his mother as she enjoys life with time to see the birth of her first granddaughter.In 2001, Sheila Whitney was diagnosed with kidney failure. She received dialysis for 3 hours a day for 7 years and continued to “P.U.S.H” (PRAY UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS) while trying to live as normally as possible. She even came to a point to where she was not able to go on any longer. Sheila received a call in late 2007 from Susan McGuire who informed her about the UCLA Kidney Donor Exchange Program. She received her kidney from Harry Damon. Sheila Whitney is blessed with borrowed time from Harry’s kidney, allowing her to see the birth of her son’s daughter. Shelia continues to do her favorite thing in life, and that’s cooking large meals for her family and friends.Sonia Isabel Valencia was diagnosed with Berger’s disease, a disease that, overtime, hampers the ability to filter waste in blood causing one's kidneys to fail. While on peritoneal dialysis, she bumped into Celia Contreras as she walked into her nephrologist's office. Sonia's hopes were bleak, and just after a few exchanging of words, Celia took the initiative and followed all the procedures for a kidney donor. Unfortunately, they were not a match. However, the Nick Damon UCLA kidney donor chain allowed Calia to donate to someone else, and in return, allowed another, more compatible kidney available for Sonia. Sonia met her new donor, Jeannie Chung, the day after her surgery, and she coins that moment indescribable as she not only knew one, but two saviors during her time of need.