With just over one month of her eighteenth year of life under her belt, Heidi Anenson was full of energy, spunk, creativity, and a love for all people and all things. Heidi especially loved children, with dreams to operate a daycare after graduation.
Heidi’s destiny changed on a December evening near Thief River Falls. Heidi was traveling home on ice-covered roads when she slid through an intersection and encountered a side impact at highway speed, leaving her body injured beyond repair.
As a senior in high school who was curious and adventurous, Heidi recently traveling to Spain and California, followed snocross racing across the north country, sang beautifully in the choir, was in band and loved music. Heidi had big plans for her life and future. Building a house, having a family of her own, expanding her photography business, and mission work were all in her life’s blueprint. Helping those in need was a deep desire and was sung like a song with each beat of her heart.
Becoming a Donor
After misplacing her driver’s license, upon replacement her boyfriend, Baily, encouraged her to check the box and designate she would be an organ donor. She talked with her mother about this choice and spoke freely about her wishes to be helpful to others, should the situation occur.
A few days shy of the Christmas holiday when it was determined Heidi was injured beyond medical repair, her parents were confident with the decision to donate her organs. Heidi’s mom, Kassi, said she sat next to Heidi in the ICU at Altru Hospital trying to understand the why. Kassi shares, “I knew I was not going to get a Christmas miracle, but someone was going to get a call and they would get the miracle they had been waiting for from Heidi.”
The Most Amazing Gift
With Heidi’s love of children in mind, Kassi finds comfort in knowing the recipient of Heidi’s pancreas and right kidney is a 38-year-old mother of a three-year-old boy. After living with diabetes since the age of four, this pancreas recipient is no longer diabetic and living a remarkably healthier life with the renewed ability to care for her son. Heidi has not only given the most amazing gift to this young lady and mother, but also given a three-year-old child a healthier mother as he grows.
Heidi’s heart was received by a 59-year-old male, her left kidney donated to a 42-year-old male, and a 64–year–old female was told before Christmas the liver she needed to keep on living was available. Heidi’s gifts of tissue have the potential to help up to 75 individuals over the next five years.
To commemorate the donation, Altru and Heidi’s friends and family held an honor walk. Kassi, Heidi’s mom says, “I know she is gone, but she is giving these people time, time to do the things they need or want to do.” The impact on Heidi’s family and friends is heartbreaking and will live on forever, and in return her gifts have lessened the hurt and heartbreak for those waiting for healing through organ donation. Heidi’s days were meaningful and short, and her final contributions were similarly meaningful and heroic.
During national Donate Life Month, we ask you to consider your role in this lifesaving and healing journey, and how you can inspire others to provide hope through donor registration and living donations. Learn more and register today at donatelifend.org or registerme.org.