This year’s theme is the Power of One, but my story is actually about the Power of TWO.
Lorissa’s dad, Philip, was killed in an ATV accident Labor Day weekend 2008. He was a cornea and tissue donor. At Kootenai Medical Center, Lorissa was exposed to donation, and decided to register her intention to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor as well.
Tragically, Lorissa lost her life in a car accident January 17, 2009.
Lorissa was sixteen, focused on school, boys, friendships, shopping, and taking pictures. She loved to be the center of attention: never leaving the house without her hair and makeup done. Lorissa loved dancing and singing, the color hot pink, and as the fourth oldest of ten children, she loved her family. A remarkable student, Lorissa worked after school as a childcare assistant, connecting best with the kids that seemed to have the most difficult time.
I miss her uncontrollably—her crooked smile, the peace sign she flashed so lovingly, stroking her hair as we watched TV together.
Knowing the kindness of her heart and her interest in helping others made my decision easier when LifeCenter approached me about donation for Lorissa. I had to make many decisions at the hospital, and I wanted to honor my daughter’s wishes.
Little did I know the impact Lorissa’s death would make on the world. A 57 year old woman has Lorissa’s lungs. An 18 year old girl has her heart. A 21 year old is caring for Lorissa’s liver. One of those recipients told me that they would not have survived another 4 months without the transplant. Lorissa also helped to enhance the lives of several people through tissue and cornea donation. I had the opportunity to meet one of Lorissa’s cornea recipients, a 21 year old man who now has the ability to see the color pink!
I know Lorissa’s nurses and doctors at Sacred Heart Medical Center did everything they could to save her life. The physician never left her room. Nurses cried with us and encouraged us to bring mementos to fill her hospital room. An ICU nurse took my other teenage children to the flight deck one night to see the city lights. That moment of compassion meant so much to my family. In the end, Lorissa’s injuries were too devastating and she didn’t survive. But Lorissa lives on and I am so thankful for everyone who made that possible. The compassion and care my family received, most especially Lorissa, has been a blessing. I am grateful for all I have experienced and appreciate every day the decision that my daughter made to leave a living legacy. What a beatiful final gift to leave behind: LIFE.