Legacy of Hope to sponsor 2023 Donate Life Rose Parade®, honor donor and xenotransplant recipient Jim Parsons

Jim Parsons, an Alabamian and registered organ donor, helped further donation and xenotransplant when his family donated his body upon death for a groundbreaking scientific study conducted at UAB earlier this year.

Photography: Steve Wood

Legacy of Hopestream Jim Parsons floragraph 32Photography: Steve Wood will continue its mission to promote organ, eye and tissue donation by sponsoring the 2023 Donate Life Rose Parade® float and honoring Alabamian Jim Parsons, whose floragraph will be displayed on the float with those of other donors from around the country.   

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Donate Life float is part of a national initiative to help share the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation with millions of people, who either visit host city Pasadena, California, or tune in to watch the Rose Parade® every New Year. This will be the 12th year that Legacy of Hope is sponsoring the Donate Life float. 

“With nearly 110,000 people currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant, we are grateful to be a part of this year’s Donate Life float, to bring worldwide attention to the need for more people to register as donors and, by doing so, help make an impact in the lives of many,” said Chris Meeks, executive director of Legacy of Hope. “We look forward to showcasing Jim Parsons’ story, and we hope to inspire others to register and get involved after hearing his remarkable story of donation. 

Parsons was a well-known personality as part of the Southeastern Cross Country Association — an off-road dirt bike racing organization across Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. After being involved in a dirt bike accident in late September 2021, he ultimately succumbed to his injuries, leaving him declared brain-dead.

But that is not the end of his story, or his legacy.

Parsons was an organ donor, and although his organs were not viable for donation, there was still an opportunity for him to leave a remarkable legacy by paving the way for thousands of people on waitlists for organ donation. He did so on Sept. 30, 2021, when Parsons’ family agreed to allow him to be part of a world’s first-of-its-kind xenotransplantation study at UAB Hospital and Legacy of Hope, Alabama’s organ procurement organization.

Jayme Locke, M.D., director of the Comprehensive Transplant Institute in UAB’s Department of Surgery and lead investigator for the study, proposed in the study published Jan. 20, 2022, in the American Journal of Transplantation that this preclinical human model be forever known as The Parsons Model.

“What the Parsons family has done through this generosity not only helped us move the field of xenotransplantation forward, but Mr. Parsons helped introduce the world to a novel preclinical human model,” Locke said. “I think, moving forward, The Parsons Model can be leveraged to study the safety and feasibility of all sorts of things designed to improve the human condition, whether it be a medication or a new surgical procedure.”

Register today to become an organ, eye and tissue donor by visiting, www.legacyofhope.org.

The 2023 float, titled Lifting Each Other Up, celebrates the power of organ, eye and tissue donation, with donors and recipients working together to support one another.

A Chinese street dragon is the centerpiece of the float, symbolizing great power, good luck and strength, bringing prosperity and abundance. The float includes a colorful dragon winding through flowering trees, lanterns and fans, and is emblazoned with 44 memorial floragraphs, or floral portraits, representing those who have given the gift of life.

The dragon will be supported on poles by living donors, and surrounded by organ, eye and tissue recipients whose lives have been transformed and have turned the corner to a more prosperous future, thanks to those who chose to be organ, eye and tissue donors and who are supporting their life journey.

A traditional paifang bridge is featured in the back of the float, with a special message in Mandarin that highlights the power of the Gift of Life.

As one of the world’s most visible campaigns to inspire organ, eye and tissue donation, the Donate Life Rose Parade® float inspires viewers to save and heal more than 1 million people in need of organ, eye and tissue transplants each year.