Winter 2019
Alumna honored for organ donation

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Gail Davis, Haylee's maternal grandmother, Nancy Ponte, Haylee's mother and Bud Davis, Haylee's maternal grandfather display a floral portrait of Haylee Ponte '15 that adorned the 2019 Donate Life Rose Parade Rhythm of the Heart float. Photo: Noel Sanchez for Donor Network West

In memoriam: Haylee Nicole Ponte, July 12, 1995 - January 27, 2015

Haylee Ponte '15 (biology) registered to be an organ donor on the University of Nevada, Reno campus where she excelled academically with hopes of attending UNR Med and becoming a physician. The biochemistry student was an altruist and volunteered her time for a Reno breast cancer charity and at a local hospital. When she passed unexpectedly from medical complications at the age of 19, her decision to be an organ donor saved an additional seven lives and impacted countless others through tissue donation. Haylee was awarded her bachelor of science degree posthumously from Nevada.

Haylee's life and organ donation were honored and remembered on the 2019 Rhythm of the Heart Donate Life Rose Parade float at the 130th Rose Parade, an iconic nationwide New Year's Day tradition in Pasadena, California. A floral portrait of Haylee adorned the float, alongside 43 other floragraphs in memory of organ, eye, and tissue donors from across the United States.

In the U.S., more than 115,000 people are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. In Nevada, that list includes more than 600 people, according to Donor Network West. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can heal more than 75 others. Anyone can register as a donor at or the DMV.