LIFESTYLE

A child lost motivates family to promote organ donor awareness

Mandi Porta/Special to The Citizen
Alexis Cole Porta was an organ donor whose heart, two kidneys, pancreas, liver, corneas and large bones have given a new life to over seven people. She was pronounced brain dead at the age of 16 on June 19, 2001 from a massive rupture of a cerebral aneurysm. It’s that time of year again when the Porta family is busily working to promote the gift of life in her memory. This is done through the Alexis’ Angel Sale, a benefit sale held annually the Saturday after Easter.

It’s that time of year again when the Porta family is busily working to promote the gift of life in memory of Alexis Cole Porta. This is done through the Alexis’ Angel Sale, a benefit sale held annually the Saturday after Easter.

This year’s sale will be held April 18 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the home of Rhonda and Colin Porta, 14340 Villar Road, Gonzales.

Alexis’ family and friends work during the year making crafts, collecting garage sale items and growing plants, all of which are sold at the sale along with jambalaya dinners. All proceeds go to the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) to help promote organ donor awareness. A blood drive is also held at the sale to allow everyone the opportunity to become a blood donor.

Alexis was an organ donor whose heart, two kidneys, pancreas, liver, corneas and large bones have given a new life to over seven people. She was pronounced brain dead at the age of 16 on June 19, 2001 from a massive rupture of a cerebral aneurysm. After being told by doctors that she had only hours to live, her mom and dad asked if they could donate her organs. It was on this day that the family first heard of LOPA. The hospital staff and LOPA team were remarkable. Their care, compassion and support helped the family through their worst nightmare.

While her parents had never discussed organ donation with her, they knew that as much as she loved life and loved people, she would have wanted to give the gift of life to others.

From the time she was a small child, she enjoyed living her life to the fullest. She played the piano, took dancing lessons, danced on her school’s dance team and participated in softball, basketball and track. She belonged to various school clubs and was an honor student. She especially loved hanging out with her friends, cousins and three older brothers. She was very outgoing, upbeat and could be quite comical. 

One of Alexis’ most admirable traits was her positive attitude. Her smile could light up a room. She always looked for the best in everyone and every situation. Her last day was spent working at her aunt’s dentist office, attending play practice at the community theater and enjoying the evening with a group of friends.

Since Alexis’ death, her mom has found comfort and healing by doing volunteer work for Aneurysm Outreach, the compassionate friends and her church’s grief support group. However, LOPA has been the organization dearest to Alexis’ family. The family feels blessed to have had contact with three of Alexis’ recipients.

The Porta family decided that the best way to celebrate Alexis’ life was to promote the gift of life.

They choose the Saturday after Easter for the benefit sale because April is not only Organ Donor Awareness Month but also the month of Alexis’ birthday.

The most rewarding outcome of Alexis’ Angel Sale for the family has been connecting with recipients, their families and donor families and learning that some of these donations were inspired by Alexis’ story. What a wonderful way to keep Alexis’ spirit and memory alive.

More details about the Alexis’ Angel Sale can be found at www.alexisangelsale.com.