Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center Honors Family During Emotional Donor Appreciation Event

By  //  April 22, 2023

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Young Man’s Selfless Gift Saves the Lives of 5

Pedro Batista’s mother and stepfather Nancy Velazquez and Felix Bermudez shared their experience of losing a loved one but giving the gift of life to others at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center’s Donate Life flag-raising event spotlighting organ recovery and National Donate Life Month. (Health First image)

Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center honors family during emotional Donate Life organ donor appreciation event April 18.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The minute Pedro Batista set foot in a room, the energy instantly shifted.

“No matter where he was, no matter who was there, you could feel the mood change,” said Pedro’s stepfather, Felix Bermudez. “He didn’t even have to say a word. His smile lit up every place he went.”

Described by family and friends as energetic, charismatic, generous and vibrant, Pedro’s life was cut short on May 29, 2011, after being involved in an accident while riding an all-terrain vehicle. Pedro was lifted by Health First’s First Flight air ambulance to Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne.

“The staff was always with me,” said Nancy Velazquez, Pedro’s mother. “They laughed with me, they prayed with me, they called me ‘Mom.’ I knew they were doing everything they could do. When the nurse came in to tell me he was gone, I just knew. I could see it in her face.”
Pedro died on June 2, 2011. He was 30 years old.

“At the time, I did not know anything about organ donation,” Velazquez shared during a flag-raising ceremony April 18, 2023 at Holmes Regional.
“No one had talked to me about that. But when they asked, I said, ‘Yes.’ I knew it was the right thing to do. Pedro was so giving. He would give you anything he had – without hesitation. I did not want to be selfish when I knew Pedro could help someone else who needed it.”

Nancy Velazquez (seated) is warmly thanked by Patient Experience Coordinator RuthAnn Valentine while husband Felix Bermudez (in back) is embraced by Dawn Futch and Julie Newhouse. (Health First image)

That day, Pedro donated both kidneys, his liver, heart and both lungs. That donation saved the lives of five individuals – a few of whom Pedro’s family was gracious to meet.

“All of these people got a chance to live… because of him,” Bermudez said.

“One Christmas, we invited Omar – the recipient who was given Pedro’s heart – and his mother and sister to the house,” he said. “That way Pedro could be with us, too. And let me tell you this… if you put your hand right on Omar’s chest, you could feel our Pedro’s heart pumping. It was beautiful.”
While not an organ transplant facility, Health First honors and supports the life-saving and immeasurable impact of organ donation and annually celebrates the gift of life alongside Donate Life Florida each April during National Donate Life Month.

More than 75 Health First leaders, clinicians and associates were in attendance during Tuesday’s ceremony. They honored Pedro’s family and recognized the importance and impact of organ and tissue donation.

“Last year, more than 42,000 Americans received a lifesaving organ transplant,” said Andrea Canales, Family Care Specialist with OurLegacy, a nonprofit organ and tissue recovery organization serving Brevard County and beyond.

“Of those lives, 654 were saved because of 231 Central Florida organ donor heroes – 23 of them from Health First,” she said. “These gifts were made by quiet heroes, and they inspire us all.”

Andrea Canales is a Family Care Specialist with OurLegacy, a nonprofit organ and tissue recovery organization serving Brevard County and beyond. (Health First image)

Still, every day, about 5,700 children and adults in Florida await life-saving organ transplants, according to Donate Life Florida. Across America, that number stands at 120,000.

“Your loved ones may not always know your wishes,” said Velazquez, who participates annually in numerous organ-donation events with her family. “By registering as an organ donor now, you have the power to save lives just as my Pedro did. He is my hero.”

Not a day goes by that Velazquez does not think of her son, Pedro.

“But knowing that he gave life to five different people makes my heart feel lighter. What better gift could be given than the gift of life?”

Be an Organ Donor: You have the power to Save Lives!

■ 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives
■ 1 cornea donor can restore sight to 2 people
■ 1 tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 75 people

To leave a legacy of life, register as a lifesaving organ, eye and tissue donor by visiting For more information and common myths and misconceptions about organ donation, visit Visit to follow the latest at Health First.

Health First Honor Guard’s Tara Dustin presents a flag to Pedro Batista’s family, mother Nancy Velazquez and stepfather Felix Bermudez.
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