Through Organ Donation, One Woman's Death Gives Life To Others

NPR | Southern California Public Radio | Scott Simon

When Ashley Theriot died unexpectedly at the age of 32, her friend ask her family if they'd donate Theriot's kidney. They agreed, and now that kidney — and 7 more of her organs — have new lives. Neil Webb/Ikon Images/Getty Images
There is a funeral service for Ashley Theriot in Pensacola, Fla. today. She was just 32, and a gifted freelance writer.

The death of a vibrant young person is a tragedy in all ways. But the person who dies can leave a gift for someone else to go on. That can be a flesh and blood blessing.

Ashley Theriot returned from Colombia on Jan. 1 and began to have seizures. She turned out to have a rare tear in the artery of her brain stem.

She had served in the Peace Corps 10 years ago, in Ukraine, and was still pals with two friends she made there, Lea Kumayama and Maggie Saalfield. They now live in Brooklyn.

When she heard this terrible news, Leah Kumayama came to Ashley's side in a hospital in Alexandria, Va. She was with Ashley and her family when she died.

Leah called their friend Maggie, back in Brooklyn, to tell her the tragic news. And Maggie Saalfield steeled herself to ask what sounds like a pretty nervy question, especially over the phone: Would Ashley's family donate a kidney to someone Maggie knew who needed one? Continue reading