She never rode in a hot air balloon. Or flew a plane. And she didn’t travel around the world. So while Chico State nursing student Kristina Chesterman wasn’t able to fulfill all the wishes on her high school bucket list because an alleged drunk driver cut her life short last September, she did check off a major item — saving a life.
In fact, the late 21-year-old Californian didn’t just save one life. She saved five. As the Huffington Post reports, that’s because Chesterman chose to be an organ donor, giving the chance of life to others — including 64-year-old Susan Vieira.
According to KRCR-TV, Viera suffered from congestive heart failure and could have died if she hadn’t received the young woman’s heart. She now vows to live out Chesterman’s unachieved life dreams after she recovers from the transplant. Viera told the ABC affiliate that “Kristina’s waiting there to advise me.”
According to the San Jose Mercury News, other organ recipients include two babies who received portions of Chesterman’s liver and a family friend who received a kidney.
The newspaper adds that besides the gift of life, the young organ donor inspired her university to start the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Nursing Scholarship, which has already raised more than $30,000. Her fellow nursing students are also reportedly raising money to build a clinic in Nigeria that will be in her name.
In the United States, the demand for organ donations vastly exceeds the number of donors. As we previously reported, while 90 percent of Americans approve of organ donation, only 42.7 percent have signed up to do so. Because of the discrepancy, nearly 7,000 Americans die waiting for organs each year, roughly 18 per day.
Sure, we might not like to think about what happens to our bodies after we die, but it’s inspiring stories like Kristina Chesterman’s that demonstrates how being a donor is not just a generous decision, it truly is a life-saving act.