Life-saving balloon in Parade of Lights

8:59 AM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
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On hand will be several balloons, including The Gift of Life Balloon, which is sponsored by the Donor Alliance. The balloon symbolizes Colorado and Wyoming residents whose loved ones made the decision to donate organs.

One of the organ recipients include Bill Fleming. He had a heart transplant in 2010, right before his 61st birthday.

Fleming talked about what his experience was like leading up to the surgery.

"I had what they refer to as a 'widowmaker heart attack' on Dec. 5 and unlike what most people tell you to do, I waited five days to go to the hospital. So I spent 156 days between two hospitals. On the morning of May 13, 2010, the day before my 61st birthday, I received the gift of a new heart," Fleming said.

Fleming also reminisced about whether thought he would ever get a heart transplant when he was younger.

"When Christian Barnard did the first heart transplant in 1968, I was a freshman in college and thought 'Boy, that's pretty cool.' Never thinking 43 years later [that I would be getting a heart transplant]," Fleming said.

Donor Alliance representative Andrea Smith talked about what it was like for the Donor Alliance to be in the parade.

"We're really excited to be involved in such as marquee Colorado event and have the opportunity to bring that awareness to all of the thousands of people involved," Fleming said.

Smith also talked about how you can sign up to be a donor.

"It's easy to do. [You] sign up to be an organ and tissue. You can do that quickly and easily online at You can also do it by saying 'yes' at your D.M.V. and it really gives the gift of life to hundreds and thousands of people just like Bill. There are 2,200 people waiting right now for life saving organs in Colorado," Smith said.

Nate Chisholm contributed to this report.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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