The last words I heard my sister, Sarah, say were on my birthday in June 2013. She called and I was at a noisy restaurant with some friends, and she shouted on the phone to me, “I love you, I can’t wait to see you soon!” I was so happy we would be celebrating together that coming weekend with my family in New York City.
A few days later, Sarah was hit by a car while crossing the street in Brooklyn on a rainy night. She was 23 years old. My family had never discussed the possibility of any of us donating our organs. Suddenly, we were faced with a big decision during a very difficult time as we prayed together and said our final goodbyes to Sarah. When we talked to the organ donor team at the hospital, we listened and asked lots of questions, but we all immediately knew in our hearts that if Sarah were able to speak, she would be say “yes, absolutely!”
As we shared the news with friends and family gathered at the hospital, it was a brief moment of peace, in the midst of our sorrow, to know Sarah was giving the gift of her life to others. Later we learned that Sarah’s gift helped nine recipients. Recently, her heart recipient wrote to our family to tell us how thankful he is to wake up each morning with a healthy heart. He would like to know more about Sarah and we are looking forward to meeting him some day.
Sarah lived with conviction, courage, and joyfulness. My family has tried to focus on positive ways to remember Sarah and celebrate her life. When she was a senior at Champlain College in Vermont, Sarah applied for and was selected for an advertising internship in Shanghai, China. She packed a lot into the 8 weeks she was overseas – finding her way in the workplace in a city where she did not speak the language, putting in long hours to learn as much as possible, and forging new friendships. When she returned home, Sarah focused on a career in advertising. She knew what she wanted to do and went after it in typical Sarah-style – full force!
One of Sarah’s professors at Champlain remembered Sarah as “a dynamic, passionate, creative individual who left an undeniable impact on those around her. Sarah’s zest for life and pushing the status quo was both inspiring and challenging. She was a risk taker. She was a woman who knew few bounds. She created. She traveled. She pushed the limits. She challenged us all to do more, be more, and experience more. She was ‘wired to work’ and looked for every opportunity to learn, grow, and improve herself. She lived every moment with gusto and aggressively sought out experiences that would transform her way of thinking, her point of view, and her world. She volunteered, she studied abroad in Peru and in China, and she created advertising and branding campaigns for small brands and big brands. She made a difference.”
Our family and friends established a scholarship in Sarah’s name at Champlain College, where she graduated in 2012. There is a 5K race in Burlington, Vermont in Sarah’s honor to raise money for the college and each year we’ve awarded scholarships to marketing students who have strong academic performance and want to expand their professional development through international experiences.
Read more about Sarah’s story, which as we look back on her all too short life, was quite remarkable.
As a Licensed Vocational Nurse at The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, it has been an inspiring opportunity to work with such a dedicated team. I truly love my job and find purpose in caring for transplant patients. Every recipient I have met always remembers the day of their transplant; it is a second birthday to them.
Sarah lived life to the fullest. In her last blog post she wrote: “Life should be about sporadic dance parties, catching snowflakes with your tongue, staying up until 5 am playing music with strangers and friends alike, sharing good times around the campfire, playing dress-up, making a mess, exploring new places, leaving your comfort zone, learning new languages (especially the slang!), falling in love with your best friend, jumping off cliffs, talking on subways, singing on stage, dancing on tables, falling, and getting right back up again. Life should be LIVED.”
As a donor family member, I have experienced first-hand the value of donating life. I try to honor my sister’s legacy by helping the patients I meet and supporting the doctors who care for them.
Methodist Health System
Jennifer has worked as an LVN for the past five years. She recently moved from Stamford, Connecticut to Dallas to be closer to her family. She is currently working for the surgeon’s team at The Liver Institute, at Methodist Dallas and taking classes to get her RN degree at El Centro College.