2014 Rose Parade Float
Jaidyn Kiara Rothermel
JJ’s Legacy is proud to Honor Jaidyn Kiara Rothermel
in the 2014 Rose Parade with a Floragraph.
Organ, Tissue and Cornea Donor
Age 3 ~ Bakersfield, CA
Donated on 9/3/11
at Valley Children’s Hospital
Joy from Jaidyn
Often out of life’s greatest tragedies, we are made aware of some of life’s basic needs. In September 2011, our family lost my 3 year old daughter, Jaidyn. It was such a difficult time, full of difficult decisions. It was difficult to believe that anything good could come out of those dark days.
Shortly after arriving at Valley Children’s hospital we were informed that Jaidyn was brain-dead and the only thing keeping her alive was life support. We realized that her souI was already in the arms of God, but her sweet body was left behind. Our family struggled with so many questions. Was there even the remotest chance that she could come out of this? Physically, we could see her, but we knew that Jaidyn (as we knew her, the one that loved strawberry milk and her cat, Chowder Pow Pow) was gone. I questioned God, “If you were gonna take her, why didn’t you just take her?” When we were first approached with donating her organs, our immediate response was “no”. She’s been through such an awful thing, we can’t do that to her. As we had more specialists confirm the original diagnosis and we had a little more time to think about it, and we had a change of heart. I remember sitting on a bench outside with my mom, and asked her what she thought about donor donation. Our family had always shied away from the idea. She told me that somewhere, someone else was begging God for a miracle, because without it their loved one might die and maybe, just maybe, Jaidyn was their miracle. During the entire donation process, Jaidyn was treated with dignity and respect. In the surgery room, the surgeons who were gathered to harvest a specific organ for a specific patient who was prepped for surgery, observed a moment of silence and then read the poem we had written to Jaidyn. Over time, Jaidyn’s ultimate gift has been a source of comfort for our family.
Two mothers (each having 3 children) have had successful kidney transplants. We have received letters from the donor network that both of them are completely off of dialysis and home raising their own children and enjoying being healthy. Two other recipients have had cornea transplants. For one their vision was restored, for the other they were able to see for the first time. Those are miracles!
Just before Thanksgiving, a young couple in our church had a premature baby girl, which required a heart valve transplant. I know the one she received wasn’t Jaidyn’s, but it brought home the reality and importance of Jaidyn’s sweet gifts. Jaidyn’s heart valves can be stored up to 5 years and still be successfully transplanted – I thought that was incredible!
During our time at Valley Children’s Hospital, we were exposed first hand to the suffering of children. Very little touches our heart like that of a hurting, helpless child. There is something that seems especially unfair when a small child is fighting for its life, enduring chemo or the endless poking of diagnostic tests. Somehow we think innocent children should be spared.
My mom remembers walking down the hall and having a small child call out as she walked past his door. Being sick was one thing, but being lonely was another. Or as we walked thru lobby’s and the intensive care waiting room, we saw siblings that were doing their homework and eating their dinner out of a Styrofoam box or paper sacks.
During this time, we were reminded of something that happened when Zachary, Jaidyn’s younger brother, was having surgery at UCLA the year before. After his surgery, a young girl came in and brought him a brand new toy. It was his. She instructed us to take it home with him. It belonged to him. We didn’t have to worry if someone with a serious illness played with it before him or if it was sanitary. The giving of a toy seems like such a simple way to honor Jaidyn’s legacy and allow her life to keep giving. This is when we started “Joy From Jaidyn”, a cause where we donate toys and learning materials to Valley Children’s Hospital twice a year. These are delivered to the Children’s Development Center of Valley Children’s Hospital. This center distributes the toys where they deem appropriate. The Children’s Development Center is an important nonprofit facility that works with the patients and attempts to keep them current on their school studies. They provide tutoring and work with the local schools. In addition to toys that go home with the children, the Development Center can use DVD’s, video games, board games and books. They have a learning center in the basement of the hospital where healthier children can play games, videos or study. These wonderful caregivers are very mindful of the family as a whole. Sometimes it is the sibling in the waiting room that needs something special.
Our tragedy has taught us some important lessons. You are never too young or old to care or give. Our family will always feel different about little pink dots on driver’s licenses, realizing it might be the miracle of life that someone else is praying for.