Pensacola nurse to walk in Rose Parade after life-changing surgery

Pensacola nurse to walk in Rose Parade after life-changing surgery

Tragedy has turned into something positive for one local woman.

One man's organ donation means a better life for a local nurse and a chance to walk in the Rose Parade.

Ryanne Wilkes was working in her garage several years ago when she fell and tore ligaments in her hip.

Thanks to a gift from an organ donor, she'll be able to participate in the Rose Parade and raise awareness for organ donation.

Wilkes spends most of her spare time outdoors playing with her dogs.

On the clock, she works as a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola - long shifts she'd never be able to complete without the gift of tissue donated from a man she's never met. A man whose tissue allows her to move without pain.

"You know, just being on my feet for 12 hours, running all around, lifting people and moving things. Being in that much pain and continuing to degenerate that little bit of tissue that was left," Wilkes said. "It would not have lasted very long."

She said the donation changed her life and gave her the chance to do something most of us will never do. The group that facilitated her transplant asked her to walk in the Rose Parade before one of the country's oldest bowl games on New Year's Day.

"I was praying they would choose me because it is such a cool opportunity to be able to do that," Wilkes said.

She leaves for the trip Friday and will get to speak about the gift she received to encourage more people to sign up to donate.

"We are all asked the question when we get our driver license, but that can be a little bit weird to think about at that time. So I think that's probably why, and I think that's why I'm excited to be able to do this, and just tell my one story, so people can see the result," Wilkes said.

According to Donate Life America, an organ donation advocacy group, more than 116,000 people need an organ transplant in the United States alone.

Twenty-two people die each day waiting for a lifesaving transplant.

You can catch Wilkes in the parade on New Year's Day. Channel 3 New will carry the parade live beginning at 10 a.m.

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