The family of an infant girl whose organ saved two lives thanked St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center and the NJ Sharing Network for their support during a difficult time as they dealt with losing six-week old Melissa Bena.
“The people from NJ Sharing Network and each and every staff member of St. Joseph’s we saw felt our pain and felt our tears,” Katty Mercado, the infant’s mother, said. “Everyone treated our baby like the princess she was. We share our baby’s story today because she is an angel who walks beside us and all those who check the box and register as organ and tissue donors in her name.”
Melissa Bena died in an automobile accident on Route 80 in 2013, but her memory lives on as the family celebrates her through the cause of organ donation. Most recently, the a floragraph of the six-week old was featured among 72 organ and tissue donors at the Donate Life Rose Parade Float at the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day 2015 in Pasadena, California.
The family donated the infant’s heart to a baby boy whose life was saved as a result. Melissa Bena’s kidney was donated to a young mother saving her life.
Mercados returned to the hospital on Friday, May 8, at a ceremony in which President of the NJ Sharing Network Joe Roth presented the organization’s flag to the hospital’s president Kevin Slavin.
The flag will fly every time there’s an organ donor at the hospital. “St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center is a champion for donation,” Roth said. “The staff here is sensitive to patients and their families and are deeply aware and supportive of the mission to save and enhance lives through organ and tissue donation.”
The pathos filled ceremony was attended by nurses, physicians, and other hospital staff members. Some wiped tears as the mother along with her husband Angel and their children talked about having gained some comfort and solace knowing her daughter, in her short life, was able to give the gift of life and help others.
“I promise you that every time this flag flies we will remember and pray for all organ donors,” Director of Mission Services for St. Joseph’s Healthcare System Martin Rooney said. “By sharing your experience and loss you have made us all stronger and more compassionate about organ and tissue donation.”
Photo: Left to right: Mirielis, Shalia, Katty, David and Angel David Mercado; Kevin Slavin, President & CEO of St. Joseph’s Healthcare System, and NJ Sharing Network President & CEO Joe Roth. In front of Joe Roth is the Mercado’s nephew Shawn.