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Braintree Celebrates Final Touches on Chris Duffy's Rose Parade Portrait

A floral portrait of Braintree's Chris Duffy will be part of the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade Jan. 1, 2014.

Mayor Joseph Sullivan, left, with Tim, Sandy, Alexandra and Emma Duffy.
Mayor Joseph Sullivan, left, with Tim, Sandy, Alexandra and Emma Duffy.
The heart, lungs and liver are what typically come to mind when people think about organ donation. But, as Braintree's Chris Duffy demonstrated when he passed away 13 years ago, donations can mean much more than replacing a single organ or helping one person.

Bone can repair damaged limbs, heart valves can save a child's life, skin can heal a burn survivor and corneas can restore someone's sight, said Diana Buck, a vice president with the New England Organ Bank, during a ceremony for Duffy Thursday in Braintree.

Sandy and Paul Duffy lost their son Chris to a brain aneurysm in the middle of the night when he was 35 years old. Donations of Chris's organs and tissues eventually gave sight to two women and helped 45 others across the country and as far away as Barcelona, Spain.

"That donation becomes a multiplier," said Mayor Joseph Sullivan, speaking before a crowd gathered at Town Hall to send off Duffy's floral portrait to be part of the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade.

New England Eye and Tissue Transplant Bank – TBI Boston sponsored the event in Braintree Thursday and Duffy's floragraph. His will be among 81 appearing on the Donate Life float in the parade in Pasadena, CA on New Year's Day.

"Simply put, we are the stewards of the gift of life," said Michael Skinner, director of Tissue Banks International in Boston. "It is an awesome thing to be part of."

Earlier this year, Sandy Duffy lost her husband Paul as well. On Thursday, Duffy's son Tim, Sullivan and others spoke to her resilience in the face of personal loss.

"I would say to you Sandy, you're a rose to us," Sullivan said. "You're beautiful, you blossom and you have a few thorns."

Sandy Duffy urged those in attendance to spread the word about signing up for organ donation at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or through the RMV online. Chris had not signed up when he passed away, but he had spoken to his father about his desire to donate.

"One hundred and twenty thousand people are waiting for a donation," Sandy Duffy said. "Eighteen people will die today because they did not receive that organ."

Tim, Sandy and Sandy's granddaughters Alexandra and Emma put the finishing touches on Chris's floral portrait at the end of the event. The floragraph "looks just like him," Sandy noted. She said she will be at the parade, wearing bright, multi-colors.

"Just wave back to me," she said. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

For more information, visit http://www.neob.org.

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