Local woman invited to join annual Rose Parade

PHILADELPHIA - December 30, 2011

When the colorful parade makes its way through the streets of Pasadena, California Alexis Sloan of Philadelphia will have a prime vantage point.

Sloan is a heart transplant recipient and will be on the "Give Life" donor awareness float.

Being part of the parade is somewhat bittersweet for Sloan, because it wasn't supposed to be this way.

Her good friend Ashley Owens, was supposed to be there instead.

Two years ago, each got a second chance at life when the family of boxer "Paco" Rodriguez donated his organs. He died from injuries sustained during a match.

"What his family did just giving us this opportunity, this gift, words cannot describe the gratitude," said Sloan.

She received Paco's heart, and Owens received his lungs. They eventually became fast friends through donor awareness events.

"We dubbed ourselves the A-team, you know, Alexis and Ashley," said Sloan.

The 'A-Team' was often joined by Owens' fiance, Jesse. This summer, the couple fulfilled their dream and got married.

But this fall, tragedy struck. After another dream-come-true - a trip to Spain with a friend, Owens got a massive infection.

"I got that message saying she was in a coma, and I thought 'Oh my God!" said Sloan.

Owens died Dec. 8 at only 24-years-old.

"She had two years to do so many things," said Sloan.

Sloan says she and Jesse will always be close friends, not focusing on what Owens missed, but what she had, thanks to Paco's family.

The two will continue to raise awareness for organ donation.

"This is about people helping people, and being able to give them one more day with their loved ones," said Sloan.

Meanwhile Sloan hopes for another donor "hero" down the line.

Her mother Maxine has the same congenital heart disorder she had and will likely need a transplant as well someday.

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