My sister Whitney was everyone's best friend – whether she just met someone or had known them her whole life. She was so beautiful inside and out! Whitney wanted to be a model someday, and she was going to a modeling coach. She was involved in every activity from girl scouts to track, basketball, volleyball, speech and cheerleading. But her passion was modeling and fashion. The walls of her room were covered in pictures torn out from magazines of models, hairstyles, jewelry and prom dresses.
Until the night of her accident, we were just a normal family going about daily life: Samantha was photographing a friend's wedding, Nissa and Matt were at a friend's birthday party, and Weston was with our parents at the races. One of Whit's friends was actually at the accident scene trying to call the house but no one was there. Thankfully she had Samantha's number and was able to reach her. We knew it was serious when we heard they were transporting her by helicopter. And that was pretty much when our world stopped.
That night, organ donation was the last thing on our minds. But when the doctors told us that there was nothing more that could be done to save her that is when they asked if our family had considered donation. I don't think we even had to think about it. We just all looked at each other and instantly knew it was the right thing to do and that it was without a doubt the decision that Whitney would have made. Whitney was such a loving and giving person she would have done anything for anyone! Talking with the NORS (Nebraska Organ Recovery System) representative that night really helped and made us feel more confident and comfortable with the decision.
We haven't personally met with any of the donor's organ recipients yet. Maybe someday. For now our parents have had corresponded with some via email and letters. It does mean so much to all of us whenever we hear from a recipient or one of their family members telling us how great they are doing. It makes us smile to know she is still making a difference...
We don't know the exact number of people who were helped by Whitney's donation, but we know that they were able to donate her kidneys, corneas and possibly others. To anyone who isn't sure about signing up as a donor: Just take that step and do it. Make sure you talk to your family so that they know your wishes. There are so many people in need - who wouldn't want to make a difference and help save or improve a life?
It's been 6 years now and I can say that for our family it has been a comfort and a glimpse of hope to know that even though we don't have Whitney here with us physically, she lives on through so many. Her gift has given so many people a second chance at life. Whitney made such a difference - not only in the lives of her recipients but for every one of their loved ones as well.