TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — A Tippecanoe County toddler's tragic death has brought life to two children in the United States. Now his parents' decision to donate his tissue will be honored at the 2020 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California.
Drew Vanderkleed was working on his yard in 2017 when his two-year-old son Logan wasn't feeling well, so he let him take a nap in the car.
“Had the air conditioning running, cracked the windows and thought we're going to be right there, 30 feet away, always in view of the vehicle,” said Vanderkleed.
He said he checked on his son and things were fine before the accident happened.
“Time went by and (I) kept looking at the vehicle and one time (I) looked up and there he was with his head outside the window and not moving and we got him out the window and did CPR and called 9-1-1,” said Vanderkleed.
Logan accidentally rolled up the car window on himself. He spent a week at Riley Hospital for Children, where he died from injuries due to suffocation. When the doctors brought up donating Logan's organs the Vanderkleeds' say they didn't hesitate to do it.
“They came in to speak to us about organ and tissue donation, originally we just said anything and everything that could be,” said Lisa Vanderkleed, Logan’s mother. “And we were really excited to find out that both of them will be placed with actual people.”
“It feels like an obligation in that anything and everything that can be used, get used to help somebody else live,” said Drew.
The doctors were able to save his heart valves, which were donated to a boy in California and a girl in Missouri last year. Cyrolife is the donation service that helped match the tissue.
The Vanderkleeds’ met Lillian from Missouri, which inspired Cyrolife Vice President, Rhonda Horstman to create a floragraph for Logan and display it on the Donate Life Rose Parade float at the 2020 Rose Bowl.
“We just thought the story was such a wonderful story that we wanted to honor Logan's donation by having him on a floragraph on the donate life float in the Rose Parade,” said Horstman.
The Vanderkleeds continue to stay positive knowing their son is helping others live on.
“We met her (Lillian) and she's full of life now and she's healthy and she's happy and had we not chosen that, yeah that is sad to think that everything we're seeing right now could not be happening,” said Lisa.
At least 21 people die every day in the United States from not receiving the transplants they need. You can find more statistics and information on how to become an organ donor here.