Chicago park bench dedicated to girl, 13, whose donated organs saved 4

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A bench at Union Park in Chicago has been dedicated to a 13-year-old girl who died last year, but whose donated organs saved four other people.

Janiya Hines died in May 2017 from cardio myopathy, an undisclosed heart condition.

Now a spot in Union Park near the pool, where Janiya favored, is a refuge for a family to remember the teen's memory.

"She loved reading, she loved drawing. She would just sometimes pick the Bible up and read things and inspire people. She was just very sensitive to others needs," said grandfather Roland King.

In the hours after her passing, her family knew they wanted to donate her organs despite a self-described cultural aversion to the idea.

"We spend the next 2.5 days with them in the ICU as we were finding the right recipients for Janiya's organs and throughout that whole process they were just so gracious," said Kevin Cmunt, CEO of Gift of Hope.

That grace inspired the non-profit to sponsor the bench through the Chicago Parks Foundation's Bench Dedication

"Families appreciate the idea of having a bench in a beautiful Chicago park because they may not want to go to cemetery but love to remember their loved ones," said Willa Iglitzen Lang, of the Chicago Parks Foundation.

Years ago, Janiya asked her mom about organ donation when she saw her mom's driver's license. She said she loved the idea.

Illinois is one of the nation's leaders in organ donation, according to Gift of Hope. Donations are up 60 percent in the last five years.

Register as an organ donor by visiting the Gift of Hope website, which redirects to the Illinois Secretary of State website.

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