Rose Garden stories from September, 2017

Organ donors honored at Rose Garden ceremony at Eisenhower Park-Newsday 2017

On her 32nd birthday in 2006, Jennifer Ruzek of Woolwich Township, New Jersey, gave a gift to her daughter: a portion of her liver, extracted in an eight-hour surgery and transplanted into the dying 8-month-old.

Bella Zuccato had been born two months premature, she told some 200 people gathered in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Saturday. She had weighed 4 pounds, and her failing liver had turned her skin yellow, said Zuccato, now 11.

But the transplant was successful, which meant Ruzek received a birthday gift in return: her daughter’s life.

“She still said it’s the best present anyone can ever have,” Bella said Saturday, with her mother, 43, looking on proudly.

Their extraordinary story was not unique among the crowd assembled Saturday for the rededication of the park’s Rose Garden, a ceremony held annually to honor organ donors and their families.

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