Sister of girl honored on organ-donation float: ‘glad that she saved lives’

December 4, 2014 8:43 pm

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) – Jaidyn Rothermel is one of two people from Bakersfield being honored on the 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade float.

The 3-year-old girl fell into a pool and nearly drowned in 2011. She was then put on life support, but her family was faced with the most difficult decision they would ever have to make: to pull her off of that life support.

“Not everybody is immediately understanding or prepared for that kind of decision,” said Jaidyn’s father, Doug Rothermel. “There’s all kinds of different perspectives on when that should be done, for the preservation of organs and their ability to be given, to the preservation of life.”

Through Jaidyn’s passing, lives have been saved, thanks to her organ donations.

“Jaidyn donated her kidneys to two women with children, her corneas, and her heart valves,” said Doug Rothermel.

Her sister, Hannah Rothermel, described Jaidyn as spunky, fun and sassy.

“I’m sad that she’s gone, but I’m glad that she saved lives and probably still saving lives today,” said Hannah Rothermel.

The other donor from Bakersfield is Philip Dhanens. He died in 2012 after a fraternity hazing incident at Fresno State University. He was 18-years-old.

Philip and Jaidyn’s donations are something they both have in common with the other 70 people honored on this year’s Donate Life float.

Twelve living organ donors will be at the parade, along with 30 riders who represent transplant recipients celebrating new chapters to their lives made possible by the donors.

Floragraph portraits made of seeds, flowers and spices will be made by families and put on the float.

Jaidyn’s family will be heading to Pasadena on Saturday to make her floragraph.

“I like putting things together, and I’d love to make her little floragraph,” said Hannah Rothermel.

Jaidyn’s organs being donated is something her family says will always keep her legacy alive.

“Even though grief is such a difficult thing, it’s immeasurable, there’s a tremendous amount of comfort in knowing that her life and the loss that we experienced is given to somebody else in hope,” said Doug Rothermel.

Becoming a donor is easy. Just register as a donor when getting or renewing your driver’s license or ID card. You can also visit

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