Brad Cuda died in 1985, and his father, Dan, made the decision to donate his organs.
Be looking for a man in a Nebraska jacket in the Rose Bowl Parade. Lincoln's Dan Cuda is riding on the "Donate Life America" float. Dan is a kidney transplant recipient, but his story of hope begins with tragedy.
Dan lost his son, Brad, in a car accident in 1985. Brad was 7 years old. At that time, Dan made the choice to donate Brad's organs.
"A month or two before he had passed, we had watched a program on E TV about organ donation. Shortly after the program, Brad made the comment that, if something were to happen to him, that would be the thing to do," Dan says.
A few years after his decision to donate, Dan himself found out that he was in need of a life-saving kidney transplant.
"I had a disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). I went on a low-protein diet at that time and kept my kidney's going for a couple of years. But, it got to the point where I had to go on dialysis.
According to Nebraska Organ Recovery System's coordinator Tom Neal, in Nebraska alone, there are nearly 500 residents at any given time who are in need of a transplant. Statistically, 50 of those individuals will die each year because they will not receive the life-saving procedure they desperately need.
"One organ donor can actually save up to eight lives. And if they are a tissue donor, they can enhance the lives of up to 60 more. You have the power to save lives. Giving of yourself to save someone is the most unselfish gift of all," Neal says.
November of this year marked the 20th anniversary of Dan receiving his kidney. Dan will be one of 30 recipients that will be on the float on New Year's Day.
Dan says, "At this point, I plan to wear a red jacket that says "Nebraska" and a black hat that says I'm a U.S. Army veteran, so hopefully everybody can see me. It's truly an honor, and an honor to represent Nebraska."
Signing up to be a donor takes just 30 seconds. You can do so at www.nedonation.org. I did it, and I hope you will, too.