December 21, 2021
Research Medical Center and Midwest Transplant Network partner to reunite a Lee’s Summit family with their late son’s caregivers and medical team, as well as his heart organ recipient, for an emotional send-off to the New Year’s Day Rose Parade®.
Christopher Hutson Jr. was killed by an enraged driver in 2017, just two weeks after celebrating his 19th birthday and four months after registering to be an organ donor. Hutson’s mother, Carthesa Hutson, who also lost her brother to gun violence, was suddenly thrust into a role as an advocate to encourage organ donation and to stop gun violence.
“Christopher is living on through other people,” Carthesa Hutson often says when sharing with others the loss of her oldest son, affectionately known as “Little Chris.” Any time I get the opportunity to say Christopher’s name and talk about him I feel like he’s still here.”
In addition to Carthesa and Christopher Hutson Sr., the couple’s two college-age sons will attend Monday’s ceremony. The family will travel to the Rose Parade that will be nationally televised on New Year’s Day. All Rose Parade floats are required to be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark. Since 2004, the Donate Life Rose Parade float each year features numerous floragraphs that replicate photographs but are made entirely of organic materials, remembering organ, eye and tissue donors like Hutson from around the country.
“I am overwhelmed with deep gratitude to be invited to this caregiver reunion and be able to personally thank everyone for being so kind and compassionate to us during a very painful time,” says Carthesa Hutson. “My family is humbled that our beloved son and brother, Christopher Jr., is honored by the creation of his floragraph for the Rose Parade float. While Christopher’s legacy will continue the more we speak about him, it also brings sadness that his life was lost due to senseless gun violence. And until people put their guns away, there will be yet another family in our shoes tomorrow. Gun violence is too prevalent, and it must stop.”
Members of the hospital’s ACS Verified Level 1 Trauma Center team provided support and comfort to Christopher Jr.’s family during their darkest days, helping them find hope in a tragic situation.
“We are thankful to be able to reunite the Hutson family with Christopher Jr.’s medical team who were there during their most vulnerable of moments,” says Research Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Ashley McClellan, FACHE. “It is an unfathomable loss that Carthesa and Christopher Sr. and their two younger sons suffered, and the Research Medical Center family is humbled by Christopher Jr.’s generous gift. We are honored to recognize, with Midwest Transplant Network, the tremendous gift of life given by Christopher Jr. and other members of our community during this season of hope.”
“Midwest Transplant Network is honored to celebrate Christopher Jr. and the entire Hutson family,” says Midwest Transplant Network Manager, Public Affairs, Michala Stoker, BSN, RN. “His selflessness enabled him to save seven lives; we are truly grateful to him for deciding to add this name to the organ donor registry, to his family for their support and to Research Medical Center for their partnership in saving lives through donation.”