Bryce Autry was a vivacious 6-year-old boy, who was well loved by all. He enjoyed playing outside and was just starting to learn how to play hockey in his hometown of Bozeman, Montana. He loved superheroes and now he is one—Bryce saved or improved the lives of six people through organ and cornea donation when he died in March 2012. He will be honored for the gifts he shared at the famed Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.
“The Autry family’s selflessness and generosity in their time of grief truly saved lives,” said Kevin O’Connor, CEO of LifeCenter Northwest, one of organizations that facilitated the donations. “Bryce sounds like a remarkable little boy, and his bright light is still shining through his amazing gifts of organs and corneal tissue.”
On Friday, December 13 at 10:30am at the Bozeman Fire Department, Station 3, the Autry family–parents Aria and Ian Autry and siblings Brittany (17), Katlynn (16), Connor (15), Braden (13), and Kelsie (10)–will decorate the “floragraph” portrait of Bryce for the 2014 Donate Life Rose Parade float titled “Light Up the World.” Bryce’s classmates from Whittier Elementary and some of the first responders who worked with the Autry family to aid Bryce will be present to honor Bryce and all organ donors.
“The floragraph of Bryce is being made by float artisans in Pasadena using flower seeds and other natural materials. Bryce’s family will put some finishing touches on the portrait during the event in Bozeman as we gather to recognize Bryce’s gifts,” said Monty Montoya, President and CEO of SightLife, the Seattle-based eye bank that handled Bryce’s cornea donations. ”We are thrilled that Bryce will be honored along with 80 other donors during the Rose Parade on New Years
On March 25, 2012 Bryce fell out of a wagon while outside playing with his siblings, and stopped breathing. His father started CPR and waited for first responders. Bryce went to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital where the doctors were stumped. He was then flown to Billings, where an MRI revealed a rare condition called Chiari malformation which had caused his brain to slip down into his spinal column. He was air lifted to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Bryce fought for his life for five days before losing his battle.
When his family was asked if they wanted to donate Bryce’s organs, tissue, and corneas they didn’t hesitate. Only a few years prior they had been through the process when their niece -and Bryce’s cousin- Gabby became a donor.
Since his passing Bryce’s family has learned the many ways he has touched people in life, and death. Bryce was able to help a little boy in Colorado suffering from cardiomyopathy, a condition his grandmother also suffers from. Oddly enough Gabby’s heart went to Colorado as well. “We hope that maybe their hearts will someday know each other,” said his dad, Ian. In addition, Bryce donated his liver to a little boy in Texas, one kidney to a little girl in Washington State, and his other kidney to a man in New York. His corneas also restored the sight and transformed the lives of two women; one in Washington State, and one in California.
“Knowing the many ways Bryce has helped others has given us solace. A friend of the family called Bryce a superhero, and he couldn’t be more accurate,” says Ian Autry.
About the Donate Life Rose Parade Float
The 2014 Donate Life Rose Parade Float entry features a festival of lanterns illuminating 30 riders – all grateful organ and tissue transplant recipients – and 12 living organ donors walking alongside to demonstrate their ongoing vitality. Five enormous lamps are adorned with 81 memorial floragraph portraits of deceased donors whose legacies of life shine brightly. Individuals and families touched by organ and tissue donation and transplantation shine a light on us all. Like lanterns illuminating the night sky above or the path before us, those who give and receive the gift of life Light Up the World
with their compassion and courage. www.donatelifefloat.org
Founded in 1969, SightLife is the only non-profit global health organization and eye bank solely focused on eliminating corneal blindness in the U.S. and around the world. Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, the organization leverages innovative technologies and best business practices to transform lives and unlock life’s possibilities for the corneal blind. SightLife works in partnership with surgeons and health organizations in more than 30 countries. Together with its global partners, SightLife provided 13,945 corneas for transplant in 2012. For more information, visit www.SightLife.org
About LifeCenter Northwest
Founded in 1997, LifeCenter Northwest serves close to 7.7 million people throughout Alaska, Montana, North Idaho and Washington. LifeCenter Northwest works collaboratively with over 200 hospitals and serves the largest geographic area of all the 58 federally designated organ procurement organizations. For more information, or to register to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor, go to www.lcnw.org