Colorado Recipients, Donor Families Celebrate Donation in Multiple Holiday Events

November 24, 2015

This holiday season, Coloradans impacted by organ, eye and tissue donation will be promoting the cause and urging others to register via two holiday events. A local mother whose daughter became a donor after her death will be sharing her story and representing Colorado aboard the Donate Life Float in the nationally televised Rose Parade. Additionally, numerous Coloradans that have either had a family member become a donor, or who have received a transplant themselves, will be escorting a float in Denver’s 9News Parade of Lights.

Gail and Kate Gallagher

On New Year’s Day Gail Gallagher, from Monument, Colo., will ride on the thirteenth annual Donate Life Rose Parade Float in honor of her daughter, Kate Gallagher, who saved three lives through organ donation after her death. The float has  become the world’s most visible campaign to inspire donation. Gail will be joined on the float by 23 other individuals whose lives were touched by donation and transplantation.

Gail’s daughter Kate was awaiting a liver transplant herself when she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away. One of her kidneys went to a grandfather from western Colorado, who Gail had the pleasure of meeting earlier this month, the other went to a grandmother, and her heart went to a 12-year-old girl who had suffered a heart attack on the basketball court.

Since her daughter’s passing, Gail has been an active advocate for donation. Leading up to her appearance in the Rose Parade, Gail will be sharing her story in Transplantation Science classes around Colorado. The class aims to educate students in a hands-on manner about the science behind and process of donation and transplantation, as well as provide them with facts they need to know about becoming a donor before they are asked to register when getting their driver’s licenses.

Before the Rose Parade, donation and transplantation will also be celebrated locally in Denver in the 9News Parade of Lights. On December 4 and 5, this annual holiday tradition will feature the Donate Life Colorado “Gift of Life” float, which is a jumbo balloon in the shape of a gift box, honoring those who have donated and representing the hope made possible by donation. Families of donors and transplant recipients from throughout Colorado will lead the float.

Among those marching in this year’s parade are the following Coloradans, with inspiring stories of being touched by donation and transplantation:

  • Wes Cook, liver recipient, Parker, CO: Wes’ battle with liver cancer left him in need of a transplant. A year after his diagnosis, he received a life-saving transplant that allowed him to get back to work and the things he loved, including hiking and riding his motorcycle.
  • Alyson Bachman, tissue and bone recipient, Lone Tree, CO: Alyson underwent multiple surgeries for severe hip pain but a final surgery utilizing donor tissue ultimately allowed her to walk pain free.
  • Carol Lathrop, liver recipient, Thornton, CO: Carol was diagnosed with liver disease in 2004 and received a life-saving liver transplant eight years later that allowed her to spend one more Christmas with her late daughter who died of cancer that same year.
  • Joe Drennan, heart recipient, Highlands Ranch, CO: Miraculously, the same day Joe was placed on the transplant waiting list was the same day he received a life-saving heart transplant after suffering from heart failure.
  • Lori and Eric Woods, living kidney donor/kidney recipient, Englewood, CO: Eric was put on the waiting list for a kidney the week of his wedding to his wife Lori. After a year of waiting for a match, Lori found out she could become a living donor and donate one of her kidneys to Eric. The transplant was a success and both Eric and Lori are healthy today.
  • Douglas Carlson, liver recipient, Littleton, CO: In 1992, Douglas was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare liver disease, and was placed on the transplant wait list. For the next seven years, Douglas waited, hoping he would live long enough to see his two young sons graduate from high school. In 1999, he got his wish. 
  • Melanie Anderson, sister of a donor, Ft. Collins, CO: Melanie’s brother Dirk made the decision to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor when he was 18-years-old. Tragically, just over a decade later, Dirk’s life was cut short after an accidental fall, and his commitment to being a donor was fulfilled.

This year marks the 41st Annual 9News Parade of Lights. The two-mile parade in Downtown Denver is free to attend and features marching bands, ornate floats and a special appearance by Santa.

“We are proud to work with such great advocates to help us educate on the powerful impact of donation and transplantation,” said Sue Dunn, president and CEO of Donor Alliance, the federally designated not-for-profit organization that facilitates organ and tissue donation in Colorado and will sponsor Gail’s participation in the Rose Parade and the Donate Life Colorado float in Denver’s Parade of Lights. “We are confident that sharing these individuals’ stories will inspire Coloradans and people around the country to give the gift of life by joining their state donor registries.”

Coloradans can register their decision to be donors by saying ‘yes’ each time they obtain or renew a driver’s license or state ID, or at anytime.

For more information about the Donate Life Rose Parade Float, visit and for more information about the 9News Parade of Lights, including the parade route, visit:

About Donor Alliance

Donor Alliance is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. As the organ procurement organization and accredited tissue bank for Colorado and most of Wyoming, Donor Alliance serves more than 5.8 million residents and more than 100 hospitals. The organization adheres to medical, regulatory and ethical standards: respectfully working with the families of organ and tissue donors, maintaining partnerships with hospitals, educating residents on the life-saving benefits of donation and inspiring them to sign up on the state’s donor registry. Colorado and Wyoming boast some of the highest rates of donor registration in the country, which directly translates to more lives saved through organ and tissue transplantation.

Donor Alliance is one of 58 federally designated organizations of its kind in the United States, and is also an American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) accredited tissue bank. For more information, please visit or the Donate Life Colorado or Donate Life Wyoming Facebook pages.