ARLINGTON — For the past three years, the passing of Elliot Carbajal has inspired others to donate blood and organs in his name, as the Carbajal family has dedicated multiple blood drives and organ donor registrations to Elliot, who was himself a habitual blood donor, and whose kidney donations at death saved the lives of two separate people.
And on one of the most televised occasions of the New Year, Elliot Carbajal will be honored for his life-giving generosity by Donate Life America, whose “Journeys of the Heart” float will bear a “flora-graph” of his face as it proceeds along the route of the Jan. 1 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
On Sunday, Dec. 9, the rest of the Carbajal family completed the flora-graph of Elliot’s face, by adding seeds for his eyebrows, during a commemoration of his life at the Gleneagle Golf Course.
While Carbajal family members lined up to sign individual letters written to each of the businesses and other organizations that helped support the Carbajal family blood drive in downtown Arlington on Saturday, Dec. 1, Elliot’s brother Adam Carbajal and sister Joyce Phillips looked back on how their efforts in their fallen brother’s name have expanded over the years.
“We got 76 blood donors this December,” Phillips said. “Our first time, we only got 19. The blood drive drew 51 pints during this year’s Hometown Holidays, and contributed to the 490 pounds of food collected for the Arlington Community Food bank. We’ve always wanted this to be the community as a whole. Elliot believed in helping out the community any chance he got.”
Megan Clark, vice president of LifeCenter Northwest, explained that Donate Life America has honored 72 deceased organ, eye and tissue donors this year through its annual Rose Parade float.
“We’ve made progress in making more transplants available to patients who need them, thanks to people like Elliot Carbajal and his family, but we still have a long way to go,” Clark said. “There are still people waiting for transplantable organs, which is why we honor those who donate their organs.”
The Dec. 1 Carbajal family blood drive registered 10 people as organ donors, and Clark added that people can even register as organ donors online at www.lcnw.org or www.donatelifetoday.com, although she agreed with Phillips that organ donors should inform their families of their decision.
“You should talk about your wishes to be an organ donor with your loved ones, so that it doesn’t come as a surprise to them at the worst possible time,” Clark said.
“I can’t imagine having to make that choice for someone else without knowing their wishes,” Phillips said.
“It was easier because we knew what he wanted,” said Adam Carbajal, who stocked the restaurant tables with candy canes, not only because of the holiday season, but also because candy canes were one of Elliot’s favorite foods year-round.