By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – Every year, 30,000 people are fortunate enough to move off the organ transplant list. Jeff Leone is one of them.

Jeff Leone (credit: CBS)

The former Denver Public Schools teacher will represent Colorado on the 15th annual Donate Life float in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., in January. The float aims to inspire others to save and heal lives through organ, eye and tissue donation.

Leone and his kidneys travel to teach the science behind donations and transplants to students across the state. He made a stop at the Denver Center for International Studies Tuesday morning.

Following his lesson, some of Jeff’s former and current students showed their support with a special sendoff Tuesday. They gave him a jacket and banner to show their appreciation.

(credit: CBS)

He credits his presence to two people; his wife and a young man who died in a car accident, both of whom gave him a kidney.

Leone told the class that one donor can help up to 50 people and in many cases bring solace to their loved ones.

“I first had a problem with thinking that someone had to die for me to be alive. I’ve finally got my head around that an unfortunate tragedy can be turned into something good,” said Leone.

“Words alone cannot express our gratitude. We can just live our lives to the fullest and not waste the gift.”


Leone also dispelled some common misconceptions about joining the registry. He says the biggest myth about becoming an organ donor is that surgeons won’t work as hard to save your life if they know you’re a donor.

If more people believed that, Jeff and a lot of other people wouldn’t be here today.

Tori Mason is an award-winning reporter for CBS4 This Morning. Follow her on Twitter @ToriMasonTV.