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Sally Casey vividly remembers the last day she talked to her daughter, Charity.
It was April 2, 2021, and Sally was up at her cabin in Danbury, Wisconsin, when she spoke on the phone to Charity, who was at their home in New Richmond, Wisconsin. Charity and her boyfriend, Carl, were planning to take a long motorcycle ride, but Charity was having second thoughts because it was so chilly.
She and Carl headed out on their ride anyway, each of them on their own motorcycle. After they dropped Charity’s bike off at a friend’s house, she hopped on Carl’s bike with him. As the two were rounding an S-curve, Carl’s back tire blew, the bike went into a slide, and they crashed. Charity suffered a bad head injury. She wasn’t wearing a helmet.
She was rushed to the closest hospital and then airlifted to a larger trauma center in LaCrosse Wisconsin. In the meantime, Sally frantically found someone to watch her puppy and arrived at the hospital at 4 a.m. “I couldn’t talk to her or touch her,” she says. “She was supposed to have no stimulation.”
For the next week, Sally and Carl kept vigil while doctors tried everything possible to heal Charity’s brain injury. Eventually, however, they knew Charity would not recover. She had registered to be an organ donor, so the doctors waited to remove life support until they had found recipients for all of Charity’s organs.
Sally, whose son had died five years ago after a motorcycle accident and eight days connected to life support, knew what to expect. “I knew with that bad of a brain injury, it wasn’t good,” she says. “But it was still incredibly hard.”
After Charity became an organ donor hero, Sally went home to grieve and remember her daughter, whom she says was outgoing, stubborn and very independent. Charity insisted on performing all the maintenance and repairs for her car and motorcycle and she loved garden gnomes and going on motorcycle rides with friends. Charity had a 29-year-old daughter named Abby, and for the last 15 years, Charity lived with her mother. “She was my best friend,” says Sally.
Several months after losing her daughter, Sally started to experience the silver lining of having a child who was an organ donor. She began receiving letters from Charity’s recipients, including two men who each received one of Charity’s kidneys, and a woman who received Charity’s heart. But the most fulfilling communication has been with Pat Orioles, who received Charity’s pancreas.
Pat, who lives in Appleton, Wisconsin, struggled with diabetes for 25 years. Now that he has a healthy pancreas, he is cured. After exchanging texts for a while, Sally met Pat and his family while she was traveling with friends to a Green Bay Packers game. “He was telling me how awesome he feels,” she says. “It’s like I have a new family.”
Sally misses Charity every day. But, although she cries when she reads them, she has continued receiving letters from the recipients, and so grateful Charity made the choice to be an organ donor.