Josh Rose's widow Tasha donates blood in his honor at the Richmond CBC blood drive.

RICHMOND, Indiana – Josh Rose loved life, and true to his spirit, his birthday party was a bash. A crowd gathered at the Richmond Community Blood Center (CBC) Monday, March 5 – family and friends, as well as complete strangers – to celebrate what would have been his 35th birthday. They all came bearing a simple yet precious birthday gift: a blood donation in Josh’s name.

Josh left behind a wife and two small children when he tumbled from the bed of a moving pickup truck in 2010 and suffered a fatal blow to his head. But his death meant life to four people he never met, thanks to his belief in organ donation.

“I’m really excited, there are so many people here!” said Josh’s wife Tasha as she reclined in a donor room bed, ready to give blood. By the time drive ended Monday evening 81 people had registered to donate, including 27 first-time donors. The final result was 68 units of blood collected for an overwhelming 538 percent of goal.

Family members say the response is a tribute to Josh’s spirit and his legacy as an organ donor. “We both decided to be organ donors about a year before the accident,” Tasha recalled. “I had forgotten until they approached us in the hospital.

“When you decide to be a donor you want to do a good deed. But when the time comes, and that’s your loved on there, you think about it. But (it was if) I could hear Josh saying, ‘I don’t need it anymore. Help someone else.’ For him it was always about helping other people.”

One man received his heart, another man his liver and two others his kidneys. Tasha regrets a donor could not be found in time to receive a cornea transplant because she “would have liked to look into his eyes.” But Tasha and Josh’s mother did meet the man who received Josh’s heart, and he graciously let them listen to his heartbeat.

“It’s a celebration of his life and I want his memory to go on,” said Josh’s mother Shirley Falcone, overwhelmed by the response to the blood drive. “He was a giver, and what better way than this to encourage others to give too.”

Erin Marcum came to the drive with her baby son Jamison. She didn’t know Josh, but learned about him and the blood drive on Facebook. “My son was premature,” she said. “That compelled me. I met a lot of parents in the hospital with children who needed new hearts and situations like that. I knew I’d like to give back something.”

Barbara Driskill knows Josh because he had a child with her niece. She has struggled to donate in the past but became a first-time donor at the drive for Josh’s sake. “He would have done it for anyone else,” she said, and added, “He was a good dad.”

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