Gift of Life service ends with butterfly release ceremony

Darian Graivshark
Butterfly, after it was released, flying in front of the chapel.

Established on April 1, 1988, Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) is a not-for-profit organ and tissue recovery agency.

On Thursday, May 30, LOPA honored Silent Heroes from 2018 in the Rosary Chapel of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. On this day, they honored the lives of those who have saved lives of others through their organ donations.

Alan Varnade was a skilled electrician, outdoorsman, 24 years young, and saved four lives with the donation of his organs.

Andrew Lakin was a Louisiana Golden Gloves Boxing Champion and only 19 years old when he was stricken by a mental illness.

Anna Williams had one daughter, and she never missed a moment to give to others.

Barbera Partin spent numerous years as a corrections officer, as well as many other positions, before her passing and the saving of others' lives through organ donation.

Blake Cordes loved to hunt, fish, and play rugby. He was able to save four lives through his organ donation.

Brian Lynch previously lived in Knoxville and served as an officer on the Knoxville Police Department. He played guitar and loved to fish. His cornea eye donation gave the gift of sight.

Caleb Loots shared his love of God with family and friends, and his family knows he left an impression even after leaving for Heaven.

Charles "Chucky" Mason had three children and loved watching the Saints play.

Charles Alexander Sr. was known as a man of integrity and honor who treated everyone with the same amount of favor.

Coby Hoyt would give anyone his last so they wouldn't do without something.

Desmond Jones loved the simple things in life, like walking or riding his bikes.

Dustin Root loved to cook and graduated from LSU. He gave the gift of sight to two people.

Eric Anderson was the baby of the bunch, played the french horn, symbol, and drums. He used to always help his mother cook.

Erica Anderson loved to read and shop. Her family described her as outgoing and smart, and she was the second child of three, the older sister to Eric.

Ja'Quailand Jackson was eighteen years young when passing, and the family explained that he was passionate about animals, especially horses.

Jane Mitchell's family was her greatest joy, and the family explained that she enhanced countless lives, especially through organ donation.

Jonathan Morgan was twenty-two years young when he passed, and his family says he is now home and more alive than ever in the heavens above.

Karson Mascaro was eleven years young when he passed, just three weeks after his birthday. He loved baseball, biking, marvel movies, and was quick witted. His family said he stayed true to himself to his very last breath.

Karyn Poche was a Sophomore at Lutcher High School when she passed away. She loved volleyball, and had considered a career in nursing or social work.

Liniqua Montgomery loved getting her hair done and always worried about her child.

Loryn Whittington was known for her zest of life, and the ability to accept all others without any judgement.

Michael Collins was known as the life of the party, and there was never any sadness when he was around. He enjoyed watching WWE.

Robert Ballenger made the most of his 67 years. He loved to host poolside parties and attending NASCAR races.

Thomas Harleaux loved and lived for his family and friends. During the holidays, he was known for bringing someone to the table who didn't have a place to go with family. His eye donation gave the gift of sight to two people.

Vyron Williams was a Navy Veteran, and he'd be glad to know that his organ donations could help others.

Wanda Harrisa had her Medical Assistant Diploma, and her family says her smile lives on in those who have received an organ donation from her.

"Over 90 lives have been saved by organ donations in 2018," Chief Clinical Officer of LOPA Joey Boudreaux said. "Sixty-one people received the gift of sight from cornea donations. The gift of life, often to someone you've never met, is such a courageous thing, and organ donation really makes a difference."

Libbie Harrison, the Mom of a Hero, said, "My son, Justin, was 15 when he was involved in an accident. When they started asking me about organ donations, I kept saying no initially. Eventually, I realized that my son would be a hero by donating his organs, and it was terrifying to say yes, but eventually I did. Justin was able to save five lives and give sight to two people that same day."

Samantha Miller spoke on behalf of Mike Sage, a Liver Recipient. "Sage was put on the donor waiting list in 2012," Miller said. "In 2016, he received a phone call for a match and calls that day his 'Miracle Day.' With the donation, he was able to start cycling and could see his daughter grow up. Everyday he gets on his bike, he thanks his Silent Hero for the donation."

After the close of the ceremony, Father Don with Pastoral Care at Our Lady of the Lake blessed the butterflies that were to be released in honor of the Silent Heroes. Miller noted they select butterflies because they represent new beginnings.

The Butterfly Legend:

"If anyone desires a wish to come true, they must first capture a butterfly and whisper their wish to it. Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit, who hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.

"So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted."

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.