BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Silent heroes were honored by the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) during their annual Gift of Life service and butterfly release.
LOPA, a member of Donate Life Louisiana, says last year 64 men, women, and children became organ, eye, and tissue donors at Our Lady of the Lake.
Members of the agency say donors provided 40 people corneal transplants and gave a "second chance at life to 90 people who were waiting for life-saving organ transplants." LOPA says the butterfly symbolizes new life for donor recipients, including Charles Henderson, who received a heart.
"Just to know that I'm able to go out and spread the story that he started, to try and finish what he wanted to do in life. He always told his mother that he wanted to be famous one day and now through me and the gift of donation, he's able to do this," said Henderson.
Family members of organ donors, including the mother of Ava Grace Branstetter, who died in a car wreck in May of 2016, says she is proud to say her daughter touched more lives in six years, by donating both kidneys and her liver, than many can impact in a lifetime.
"It's so fitting for her because she had a huge heart and she would give anything to anybody to help them. So the fact that even through her death she was able to save lives, is perfectly fitting for her," said Emily Branstetter, mother of Ava Grace.
LOPA says currently, more than 2,100 people in Louisiana and 120,000 nationwide are waiting for a life-saving organ donation. This annual event not only aims to honor donors, but also draws in new donors.
For more information on organ donation, click here.