When 6-year-old Hazel Paddock died last year, her grieving parents made the decision to donate her organs and corneas, saving four lives and restoring sight to two others.
Hazel is just one of 254 Washington organ donors — and their family members — who were honored by Gov. Jay Inslee in a virtual ceremony April 7 co-hosted by LifeCenter Northwest. Each family member will receive a Gift of Life Award certificate signed by the governor.
“We witness the life-saving power of organ donation every day in our work,” said Santokh Gill, president and CEO of LifeCenter Northwest. “We are grateful for the opportunity to honor donors and their families in a virtual ceremony so we may celebrate the second chances they provided to hundreds of others through organ donation.”
Gov. Inslee proclaimed April as Donate Life Month to encourage Washingtonians to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.
Hazel was born with a rare genetic mutation that made speech and movement difficult. She had to fight her whole life. But she was special. She was sweet, innately happy, and people and animals were drawn to her. Hazel’s dogs and her little sister would make her laugh, and when she laughed, the whole world stopped. She lit up the room with her gorgeous smile and sparkling eyes.
Today, after losing Hazel at the age of 6, the Paddocks find comfort in knowing their daughter saved four lives, including the life of a little boy who carries her amazing heart. They received a letter from the boy’s family sharing that he loves to eat, which is funny because Hazel did, too.
Although Hazel spent the first year of her life blind due to her condition, she recovered and in the end, gave sight to two people.
“In those first few weeks after losing Hazel, knowing that somewhere there’s a family holding their child’s hand who’s alive because of her — it was the only thing keeping me upright,” said Hazel’s father, Christian Paddock. “Knowing this still helps us tremendously.”
You can honor donors like Hazel by registering as an organ, eye, and tissue donor and sharing this decision with your family.