iStock/Thinkstock(TAOS, New Mexico) — A hospital in New Mexico gave a touching tribute to a 22-year-old who died after getting buried in an avalanche last week at Taos Ski Valley.
In video released by Donate Life New Mexico Donor Services, staff at the University of New Mexico Hospital could be seen standing against the walls as Corey Borg-Massanari was wheeled to an operating room so his organs and tissues could be recovered.
In what the hospital said was its first "Organ Donor Walk of Honor," hundreds of doctors, nurses, volunteers and others could be seen silently watching and at times crying as Borg-Massanari was transported in an intensive-care unit bed down the hallways.
Walking behind Borg-Massanari were his parents, Bobbie and Mark; his sister, Karlee; as well as his grandparents and great-uncle.
"It was incredibly moving," said Kate Becker, UNM Hospitals chief executive officer, in a news release Wednesday. "Our mission to serve patients is the cornerstone of everything we do and to be able to honor a patient and his family as they took what must have been the longest, hardest walk of their lives, was emotional and humbling. Our hearts go out to the Borg-Massanari family and we want to thank them for letting us serve them and for their gift to others who will benefit from Corey’s donation.”
Borg-Massanari, who had signed up to be an organ donor, later died at the hospital Monday, his family said in a statement.
His family wanted to share this deeply personal moment with the country, hoping their son's gift of life would inspire others to consider organ donation as well.
He was born in Pueblo, Colorado, and was living in Vail when he died, according to the statement, which described him as an "experienced and avid skier" and an outdoorsman who also enjoyed camping, fishing, zip-lining, snowmobiling and dirt biking.
Borg-Massanari and another man — identified as Matthew Zonghetti by ABC affiliate KOAT-TV — were trapped for 22 minutes after the avalanche sent snow pummeling down a mountain around 11:45 a.m. local time on Thursday, Chris Stagg, vice president of Taos Ski Valley, Inc., told ABC News.
Rescuers dug the skiers out and transported them to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, Stagg said. The snow was so deep in some areas that probes that were used to locate people couldn't reach the bottom.
It was unclear what triggered the avalanche, which occurred on the K3 shoot off Kachina Peak, the ski resort wrote on Twitter.
The lift for Kachina Peak just opened on Wednesday, the previous day, according to The Taos News. The lift rises to about 1,100 feet to take expert skiers and snowboarders to the top of the mountain, the newspaper reported.
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