By Donor Sister, Sarah Smith

My sister Jaclyn (Jackie) was a force. She was an amazing mom to three young boys, whom she lived her entire life around.  She loved to help others and would do anything for anyone. She loved to shop, especially for shoes – we called her “Shoe Queen.” She loved family and was loved by so many people in return. She was my best friend, my other half.

At 37, Jackie had much to look forward to. Her marriage, raising her sons, continuing to give back to her community and helping others. Tragically, that wasn’t meant to be for my sister.

On January 25, 2017 my sister was taken to the emergency department where they found she had bleeding on her brain.

We were hopeful when she was life-flighted to a larger hospital in the area for surgery to repair the bleed. Unfortunately, Jackie never recovered from the surgery and on January 28, 2017, my big sister, who was beautiful inside and out, was declared brain dead.

It was after the brain death declaration that a glimmer of hope appeared when we learned she was a registered organ, eye and tissue donor.

We knew while we were praying for her to pull through this medical emergency, others were praying for their family members to receive the life-saving transplant they so desperately needed to live. Our family felt comforted in knowing how Jackie dedicated so much of her time to helping others, this was a fitting way to cement her legacy through donation.

Jackie saved five lives that day by donating her heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and pancreas. She also healed countless others through the gifts of her corneas and tissue. She then went one step further and her aortic valves were recovered to use in dialysis research.

Two days after we laid Jackie to rest, I wrote the five recipients for the first time. I felt compelled to reach out and let them know the person who touch their lives so profoundly. While I haven’t heard back yet, I am hopeful for a relationship with her recipients.

Donation, for our family, has been the one positive thing we can focus on. She’s not really gone, pieces of her are living in others – she gave something to people that few can do. I ask you to consider registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor and helping to save and heal lives like my big sister has done. Jackie gave us a gift through this too – hope.