By Mandy’s mom, Betsy
Mandy Harrell – Organ Donor
Mandy was a loving daughter, fiercely protective sister, and a faithful friend. A petite 18- year-old with an unquenchable love for life, she had a bubbly personality and a beautiful smile. During her participation in America’s Junior Miss Scholarship Program in July 2005, when asked to name the hypothetical Broadway play about her life, she proudly proclaimed “Life is Short and So Am I.” She explained that she had always tried to live life to its fullest while being true to the values she had been taught.
Mandy had just started college to fulfill her dream of being a special education teacher when she was killed in an auto accident on Labor Day 2006. “Shortly before the accident, she called us and said she was having the ‘best day’ of her life,” remembered her mother Betsy. “Just a short time later, she went from the best day of her life on this Earth straight into the loving arms of her Heavenly Father. Having experienced firsthand the miracle of organ donation 12 years previously, when Mandy’s grandfather, Poppy, was given the gift of a heart and kidney from a 17-year-old boy who died in an accident, our decision to donate Mandy’s organs and tissues was never in question. We had nine additional years with Poppy after his transplant and knew the joy that comes for a family when they get the news that an organ is available for their loved one.”
As a result of Mandy’s gifts, six people were given a new lease on life. Her lungs went to a 54-year-old woman from Ohio, whom Mandy’s family met this summer. Mandy’s pancreas and one kidney went to a 43-year-old man from Knoxville who lives near Mandy’s family. He now enjoys a life free from the constraints of dialysis and no longer requires insulin or diabetes medication of any kind. Mandy’s heart went to a little boy who was 11 at the time.
A scholarship is given each year in Mandy’s memory to a college-bound student at the high school she attended. Purple and green bracelets made by her friends proclaim, “Life is Short,” with her initials, a reminder to all that we are not promised tomorrow. The high school cheerleading squad, on which she served for three years, named the cheerleading platform in Mandy’s memory to ensure that she is forever remembered at her alma mater.
“Each time I tell her story as a volunteer for Donate Life Tennessee, it teaches others the importance of donation,” said Betsy. “We are grateful for the time we had with Mandy and so pleased and thankful that her last gifts have provided the opportunity for new life to so many others.”