When Jemima Layzell died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm at 13, her parents mourned the loss of her young life.
But they probably didn’t imagine that over five years later, Jemima would have managed to give life to others — a record number of people, in fact, according to The Guardian.
Jemima, who donated her heart, pancreas, lungs, kidneys, small intestine and liver after dying in 2012, has saved the lives of eight people across the United Kingdom, including five children, according to the Independent.
No other organ donor in the country has saved the lives of that many people, according to the NHS Blood and Transplant.
Jemima made the decision herself. A few weeks before her death, a family friend’s passing in a car crash prompted a conversation between the 13-year-old and her parents about becoming an organ donor.
The family friend was “on the register, but their organs couldn’t be donated because of the circumstances of their death,” said Sophy Layzell, the mother of Jemima. “Jemima had never heard of organ donation before and found it a little bit unsettling, but totally understood the importance of it.”
Three people received her heart, small intestine and pancreas, according to The Guardian, while her kidneys were transplanted into two people, her lung was transplanted into one person, and her liver was split and given to two other people.
It was a tough decision for Jemima’s parents to make, but they couldn’t handle the idea of depriving organs from people — and especially children — who needed them desperately.
“Shortly after Jemima died, we watched a program about children awaiting heart transplants and being fitted with Berlin Hearts in Great Ormond Street Hospital,” Sophy said. “It affirmed for us that saying ‘no’ would have been denying eight other people the chance for life, especially over Jemima’s heart, which (her father) Harvey had felt uncomfortable about donating at the time.”
It seems that Jemima — writing entries in her diary, which her parents have turned into a book “The Draft” to raise money for a charity in her name — predicted her early death.
“I almost feel as though I will never live long enough to become an author, to be married and have a family,” she wrote in a Aug. 2011 entry.
But in another Aug. 2011 entry, she also wrote of the obligation we all have to help our fellow humans.
“Some people say that God can’t exist because if he did he would help all the poor people in the world,” she wrote, according to The Guardian. “I object to that. I feel their despair but WE have to help them. They are there because we did this to them. They are there because we have a wrong to right.”
Last year, 457 people in the UK died waiting for an organ transplant, according to the NHS, including 14 children. Currently, 6,414 people — and 176 children — are on the waiting list.