Rose Parade TV special to honor young Donaldsonville organ donor alongside other heroes
DONALDSONVILLE - A Donaldsonville teenager who died in 1991 will be honored during an upcoming televised Rose Parade New Year's Celebration.
According to a recent report by The Advocate, after 15-year-old Shawn Elizabeth Guillot of Donaldsonville passed away in a tragic car crash, by means of organ donation, Guillot was able to save four lives and help restore health to an additional two individuals.
Rightly so, her gift of life will be honored on New Year's Day, along with 20 other organ donors from across the country, during a two-hour TV special that will take the place of the 132nd Rose Parade due to COVID restrictions.
The "Rose Parade’s New Year Celebration presented by Honda” will air at 10 a.m. on New Year's Day on ABC, NBC, Hallmark Channel, Univision and RFD-TV.
Audiences who tune in to the televised special will enjoy musical and marching band performances, celebrity appearances, as well as a look at beautiful flower-laden displays.
The display that will likely stand out to people from Louisiana and to those who've been impacted by Guillot's gift of life is Donate Life America's. The organization's display will honor health care professionals who have saved lives through transplant surgeries, as well as Guillot and her fellow 20 organ donors from across the nation.
Since Guillot's death, her parents, Peggy and Don, have made it their goal to help others understand the importance of organ donation. The couple is open about the challenges they face in this regard.
Peggy touched on this when she told The Advocate, "A lot of people still are not on board with this, and I can understand how that happens. I wasn't on board initially. In 1991, nothing was said about it."
Her husband, at the hospital where their daughter had been taken after the crash, brought up the subject of organ donation with the medical staff.
"My husband remembered reading about it," Peggy explained. "What I had to learn and understand is the difference between brain injury, which can be recovered from, and brain death, which is irreversible."
She recalled what helped her to make a final decision, saying, "That night of the accident, I wasn't on board until I retreated to the hospital chapel to pray."
She said she prayed that she might be able to accept it, if her daughter would not be able to survive.
"At that very moment, peace came on me and I was certain about where we were with Shawn and that the right thing was to help others," Peggy said.
Through their volunteer efforts with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA), Guillot's parents educate the public by speaking about organ donation at schools, churches, and during meetings with healthcare professionals.
The Advocate goes on to say that the couple's 21-year-old granddaughter, also named Shawn Guillot, worked with Lafayette artist Liz Fox, to create a portrait of the Guillot's daughter for the Donate Life floral display, working with a photograph and using rice, coffee, flax seeds and cinnamon as their media.
"For a family to be so actively involved so long after the donation is a testament to the love they have for their 'hero' and to Shawn's incredible legacy," said Lori Steele, community educator for LOPA.
Other family members helped with the finishing touches; their efforts were captured in a video produced by the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, https://fb.watch/2w-68KjTrx/
Shawn Guillot had hoped to become a child psychologist and work with teenagers in a big city one day, The Advocate reports.
"She was indeed a child of God, filled with his love and compassion," Peggy wrote, in part, in a biography of her daughter for the Donate Life Rose Parade Committee. "She adopted strays and sought to protect the smallest of critters. "She radiated an inner light that touched us all."