MILLBURN, NJ - Millburn resident Missy Rodriquez is transforming her experience as a transplant recipient to give back to others affected by organ donation. Rodriquez started the Missy's Miracle Scholarship in honor of the 30th anniversary of her liver transplant after a minor complication and surgery led to an idea to pay it forward.
Missy's Miracle Scholarship provides college scholarships for anyone who has a relationship with organ donation. The scholarship is specifically for organ donors, transplant recipients or someone affected by it. Teaming with the NJ Sharing Network, Missy's Miracle awards two $5,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors each year. One of the requirements for the application includes an essay on the impact of organ donation on the applicant's life and notes that donor awareness advocacy is the major factor in determining the scholarship award.
After keeping her transplant secret for over 30 years, Rodriquez came out from behind the shadows and found a welcoming community "This is just who I am and now that I've sort of come out and told people about this; It's really empowering." Rodriquez told Steve Adubato in a 2016 interview at a Sharing Network event. She continued, "I've gotten amazing support through the events we've held and even in my town, has been so unwavering and incredible."
Additional information and application forms for the 2017-2018 Missy's Miracle Scholarship are available here.
The first liver transplant was performed in 1963 by Doctor Thomas Starzl but was unsuccessful. Starzl performed the first successful liver transplant four years later.