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AV Hospital Honors Organ Donors who Saved Lives

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Antelope Valley Hospital (AVH) is reaffirming its commitment to promoting organ donation. Through a collaboration with OneLegacy, the organ and tissue recovery organization serving the greater Los Angeles area, the hospital raised a Donate Life flag today in recognition of donors who saved lives via organ and tissue donation. AVH, long recognized as a key donor center in California, was home to 55 organ and tissue donors last year.

The father of Air Force test pilot Maj. Benjamin Meier was among the honored guests at the flag-raising ceremony. Meier was on a morning run in 2015 near Edwards Air Force Base when he was struck in the head by the mirror of a passing truck. Declared brain dead less than 24 hours later, he was saluted by pilots and airmen here at the hospital before he donated his heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, saving the lives of five people. Meier, who was a test pilot for the F-35 fighter plane, also was honored on the 2018 Donate Life Rose Parade float that included a military jet flyover.

"I want to let you know how much our family feels a kinship to you and your hospital," said Maj. Meier’s father, who individually thanked the nurses, respiratory therapists and doctors who helped try to save Benjamin’s life. "The thing I noted the most was that you treated us like family. You let us come and go out of the ICU when we needed to and you let us stay with our son as long as we needed to. That was really wonderful."

Antelope Valley Hospital Chief Executive Officer Michael Wall said the hospital was proud to participate in National Donate Life Month and hopes the flag serves as a reminder to local residents of the importance of organ donation and encouraged them to join the California Donor Registry.

"By supporting organ and tissue donation, hospital doctors and nurses are continuing their life-saving efforts even in the midst of a tragedy right here at home," Wall said. "This commitment to helping others is consistent with our core values of excellence, teamwork, initiative and compassion."

Last summer, AVH received OneLegacy’s Health and Human Services Silver Recognition Award for raising awareness about organ donation. The hospital was previously recognized as the top-performing medical center in all of OneLegacy’s service area, which spans seven Southern California counties and 240 hospitals.

Nearly 22,000 California residents are waiting to receive lifesaving hearts, livers, lungs, kidneys and other organs. A single organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and improve the lives of as many as 75 more by donating their corneas and tissue.

National Donate Life Month recognizes the generosity of those who have saved and enhanced lives by becoming donors, while also highlighting the critical need for more people to sign up to be donors. To become a donor, people may register at the local DMV or online at donatelifecalifornia.org.

From left to right, Antelope Valley Healthcare District board member Dr. Don Parazo, the father of Maj. Benjamin Meier and hospital CEO Michael Wall prepare to hoist the Donate Life flag atop a flag pole at the hospital’s main entrance.

District board member Dr. Don Parazo, the father of Maj. Benjamin Meier and hospital CEO Michael Wall