Teen’s Gift Of Life Honored At Rose Parade

The family of organ and tissue donor Hailey Palumbo gathered at the Jackson Township Fire Department for the unveiling of a tribute to Hailey that was featured on the Donate Life Rose Parade float. From left: Ray Wetstein, Hailey’s stepfather; Morgan Palumbo, Hailey’s sister; Janet Palumbo, Hailey’s mother; Ashley Wetstein, Hailey’s stepsister; and Nicholas Wetstein, Hailey’s stepbrother. (Photo Courtesy of NJ Sharing Network)

  JACKSON – Hailey Palumbo was remembered and honored during the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California but the families of the people she saved think of her every day.

  Hailey passed away after a tragic crash on May 23, 2017. She was only 15 years old and a sophomore in high school.

  At the time of the teenager’s passing, members of the NJ Sharing Network team discussed organ and tissue donation with her family. Despite her family’s overwhelming feeling of loss, they chose to make Hailey’s dream to save lives come true.

  Through that donation, Hailey saved five lives and continues to give a better quality of life to many others. By giving the gift of life to others, Hailey’s family has been blessed to meet many people. They made a powerful connection with John, one of Hailey’s kidney recipients and his wife, Barbara. They also have become ‘like family’ with Hannah, Hailey’s liver recipient, and her loved ones.

  “Our family is comforted by knowing that these amazing individuals have a better quality of life thanks to Hailey’s gifts,” Hailey’s mother Janet Palumbo said.

  Her family and friends recently gathered at the Jackson Township Fire Department for the unveiling of a fluorograph (a replication of a photo made entirely out of flowers, seeds, and organic materials) of Hailey that was featured on the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade. Her fluorograph joined 43 others who are being honored for giving the gift of life with the hope that this will inspire others to become donors.

  Palumbo said she “was a loving daughter, sister, and friend. Her life began on August 18, 2001, and from then on, every day was a new adventure. Those who knew and loved Hailey recognized her as an energetic, good-hearted girl that brought joy to others and lit up a room when she walked in.

  “Hailey was the ‘life of the party,’ and she had countless friends that always wanted to be around her to enjoy her company,” she added.

  Her mother noted that Hailey “was filled with big dreams and knew that her purpose in life was to make a positive impact on others. She was inspired by being a part of the Junior Air Force ROTC Program. She planned to join the Air Force after high school where she would have proudly served defending our nation. She also planned to then enroll in college to become a surgeon. Hailey’s dream was to save lives.”

  According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), there are over 100,000 Americans – nearly 4,000 of whom live in New Jersey – waiting for a life-saving transplant. One organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 others.

  For more information, or to get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit NJSharingNetwork.org.