Local organ donors to be recognized on Rose Parade float


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NEW PALESTINE — Those who knew Curt Lynch and Ben Rogers remember how willing they were to help others.

The two New Palestine men exhibited that quality even in their deaths.

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Both were organ donors. They’re survived by not only family and friends who love and miss them, but complete strangers who were able to get new leases on life.

Roses recognizing both of them will be on an organ procurement organization’s float in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, on New Year’s Day.

Ben Rogers was a volunteer firefighter for Sugar Creek Township. He was a full-time construction management student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a full-time manager at a Marsh supermarket. He played piano, guitar and trumpet and performed in show choir at New Palestine High School, where he also competed in every sport the school offered except baseball. He was fluent in Spanish, did mission work in South America and had just bought his first house in Marion County. Marion County.

“He just lived every day to the fullest and he was never too busy to help somebody,” said Julie Rogers, Ben’s mother.

Ben died at age 22 in a motorcycle accident on Nov. 26, 2013, two days before Thanksgiving. He donated his lungs, kidneys, heart, liver and tissue.

Curt Lynch loved music and was a percussionist in band at New Palestine High School. The full-time DeVry University student died at age 26 on April 17, 2012 following complications resulting from a tear in his aorta.

“You know that you’re going to bury your parents someday and you may have to bury a mate, but you expect your kids to bury you,” said Carla Lynch, Curt’s mother.

While the amount of time Curt survived on life support rendered his major organs unable to be donated, he donated tissue, bone and both of his corneas.

“By far it was the hardest thing that my husband and I have done, not only as parents, but also just as adults,” Carla said of Curt’s death. “But when you realize that there is part of your child that is living on, that is helping, it… helps make sense just a little, that they’re not totally gone.

“It was so Curt to do for others,” she continued. “He was pretty selfless.”

Francie Skinner, a 2007 New Palestine High School graduate, performed in band with Curt and was in the same grade as Ben’s brother.

“They were both very fun-loving and they both loved life,” Skinner said of Ben and Curt. “They both loved their friends.”

Skinner is an organ recovery coordinator with LifeCenter Northwest in Anchorage, Alaska. At a work conference earlier this year, she had the opportunity to reserve roses in Ben’s and Curt’s names on the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade.

“Both of them saved lives,” Skinner said. “…It’s honestly the biggest gift that anyone could ever give.”

According to Donate Life’s website, “thousands of roses create a Dedication Garden that is a featured design element on the Donate Life float each year.”

Each rose goes in a vial carrying “a unique, personal message of love, hope and remembrance; and honors donors, recipients and others touched by organ, eye and tissue donation,” the site also states.

Chuck Rogers, Ben’s father, said he was happy to learn a rose in his son’s name will be on the float.

“We’re always glad for him to be recognized,” Chuck said. “He was a really special guy.”

An organ donor can save up to eight people, Skinner said, adding a tissue donor can save more than 100.

“There are people every day dying waiting on that list for a lifesaving transplant,” she said.

Pat O’Hara, 65, Wabash, got Ben Rogers’ heart on Thanksgiving Day in 2013. In O’Hara’s early 30s, he was diagnosed with a genetic defect resulting in a thickening of the heart muscle. He lost a brother and sister to the same malady.

Before O’Hara got Ben’s heart, he was the first recipient in Indiana of a SynCardia artificial heart. The operation was conducted on June 26, 2013, Ben’s last birthday.

O’Hara said getting Ben’s heart left him with mixed thoughts that are hard to explain.

“Somebody lost their life for you to get life,” he said.

He’s traveled to have lunch with Julie and Chuck on Ben’s birthday. O’Hara said he’s heard and read a lot about the young man and wishes he could have met him.

“He sounds like he was one heck of a guy,” O’Hara said.

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Organ donation

  • 113,000 men, women and children are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants
  • Every 10 minutes, another person is added to the national transplant waiting list
  • 8,000 deaths occur every year in the United States because organs are not donated in time
  • In 2018, 17,500 donors brought new life to recipients and their families
  • 750,000 transplants have taken place since 1988
  • 95% of Americans are in favor of being a donor, but only 58% are registered
  • Register to be an organ donor at donatelifeindiana.org/donor-registration

Source: Donate Life America