Kansas City woman who died of a stroke at age 43 will be honored in Rose Parade for donating life

WESTWOOD, Kan. -- Heather Reed-Flynn loved and protected nature. She was always a recycler. When Reed-Flynn died unexpectedly last year, the ultimate act of recycling occurred, and for that, she'll be honored in the Rose Parade on January 2nd.

Reed-Flynn's beloved pets sensed something was wrong one day in August last year. Her daughter, Hannah, noticed.

"I don't know how. They just could. They were acting really strange the entire day," said Hannah.

It was the day Reed-Flynn suffered a brain stem stroke. She died the next day at age 43. Reed-Flynn, who had a degree in human ecology, had always been a good steward of the earth -- a recycler. She and her husband, David Flynn, talked every year about organ donation. They wanted to recycle their organs when they died.

"This is what we do is that we recycle, and we try to help somebody else out because we're not going to be able to take it with us," he said.

Reed-Flynn was able to donate her kidneys and corneas as well as tissue and bone for countless grafts.

"Although it was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my whole life, it was actually made easier because of 'a', the commitment she had and 'b'. the conversations that we had," said David Flynn.

On Monday, the family gathered to finish a unique image of Reed-Flynn. It was done in organic materials -- something that the ecologist would have loved. Her floragraph will be one of 96 on the Donate Life Float in the Tournament of Roses. Reed-Flynn was selected to be this year's honoree from the Midwest Transplant Network.

"She would not like all the attention she's getting, but she doesn't really have a choice," said Flynn.

"It'll be really full of joy," said Hannah.

There's joy out of so much sadness and grief. Flynn and Hannah will be at the parade in Pasadena, California. They'll honor a great wife and mother and a giver -- a giver of life.

For more on organ donation, go to this link.