Her gifts saved 5 lives and provided hope and connection for her father.
As a Native American growing up on a reservation, Mark was only too familiar with the trauma and sadness his people suffered. But to him, this loss—the loss of his beloved daughter Jasmine—proved almost impossible to bear.
At the age of just 14, Jasmine—“Jahzy” to her family—died tragically. She was found unresponsive at school. Even though she was taken to the hospital, it was too late. Her brain was hemorrhaging and she would not survive.
It was a desperately dark time. Mark was on an emotional roller coaster of anger and disbelief, seeing her lying there. But he also knew he had to disregard his feelings, put them away, and make an all-important decision. Even though Jasmine was gone, she could be a candidate for organ donation.
“I was reminded, you know … I was remembering just the way she lived her life and her attitude and just how loving she was,” Mark recalls. “Her genuine sensitivity to other people and their needs. So that is what ultimately guided me and brought me back to where I needed to be in that moment to make the decision.”
Mark chose to say “yes” to organ donation. And that day, five people were saved by Jasmine’s gifts. “It just complemented her nature—her kind nature. So it brought peace.”
But that peace did not arrive immediately. The whole family struggled with Jasmine's death, Mark especially. He also lost his mother that year—and he struggled with addiction. “There was a time of darkness, I was wandering in darkness, you know, with no goals, no hopes, no dreams. I almost lost the will to live.”
Then he received news of the five women who had received Jasmine’s organs. “I believe it was then that Jesus started working in my heart,” he says. “It started as a little spark and the dark in my heart was broken. My whole family wanted to know who these people were or even see a picture of them—including my mother before she passed away.”
Through his faith in Jesus, Mark found the strength to enter a treatment program and face his darkness. He began to paint—something Jasmine has also encouraged—and was asked to do an art exhibit. Through the museum’s promotion, a woman recognized Mark’s name and connected with him. She had been saved by the gift of Jasmine’s lungs.
Since then, Mark has met three of Jasmine’s recipients. He hopes to connect with all of them some day. He remembers meeting the girl who received part of his daughter’s liver. “Seeing the smile on that little girl’s face told me God was in charge.”
He also heard Jasmine's heart beating in the woman who received it. That experience sparked a mission for Mark. He wants to bring healing and hope to others by talking organ donation to all religions and cultures, but especially within the Native American community.
“With our history, it’s hard for our people to trust,” he says. But through the healing power of his faith and Jasmine’s story, Mark hopes to break through.
To anyone who finds themselves in this terrible situation, he counsels, “I’d ask you to think about that person in need. You have an opportunity to honor the life that you cherished with your loved one—to make a difference in another life. Put your trust in Jesus. It brings peace and healing to the soul.”
Want to leave your own legacy of hope and healing? Learn about registering as an organ, eye, and tissue donor.
Jasmine’s story courtesy of Life Source Minnesota.