Sisters, Savannah and Kayla, are forever connected in their generous acts of becoming organ donors. Although their lives were tragically cut short, their decision to be donors saved and improved the lives of more than 100 people.
It’s her daughters’ generosity—and the people her two girls helped—that their mother, Sandy, holds onto today. “God’s got a plan for each and every one of us,” she says. “And no matter what each of our journeys is, whether it’s five years or it’s 95 years, it’s our particular journey.”
For Savannah and Kayla, their journey began one evening in 2007. Sandy and her family were watching TV when an Alabama Organ Procurement Organization ad aired about the story of a little girl’s organ donation. A family conversation followed, leading Sandy, her husband, her son, and her daughter, Kayla, to sign up as donors.
“So, I went online to register all of us to be organ donors,” says Sandy. “And Savannah walked into the room and said, ‘Mommy, what are you doing?’” She told her youngest, who responded, “I want to do that too.” “And I said, ‘Savannah, you're mama's baby. We’ve got a long time to worry about that yet,’” Sandy recalls. But Savannah was adamant, saying, “Mommy, you don't understand. I'm not going need it when I get to heaven.”
Little did Sandy know, exactly a month later, the two of them would be in a car accident that took Savannah’s life. Mother and daughter were rushed to separate hospitals. Sandy was in a coma for several days. Savannah’s father was with her when doctors told him she was brain-dead. He asked them, “Can she help anyone?”
“Savannah saved five lives that day through organ donation,” says Sandy. She donated her kidneys, liver, corneas and heart valves. The family stays in touch with the person who received Savannah’s liver. That young woman is aiming to be an Intensive Care Unit nurse to work with transplant patients.
Several years later, tragedy also struck Sandy’s older daughter, Kayla. She was able to donate her lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, corneas, skin, bones, ligaments and nerves. More than 100 people benefitted from Kayla’s donations, her family was told.
In addition to holding onto the generosity of her daughters, Sandy is a passionate organ donation advocate—speaking at churches, volunteering for Legacy of Hope, debunking myths around organ donation and talking about her daughters’ journeys.