By Diane Sewalish
Heidi Sewalish was born on June 25, 1984 in Medina, Ohio and her life tragically came to an end on April 20, 1998.
Heidi was the youngest of three children. She was a very enthusiastic, energetic, athletic and open minded individual. She lived in Ohio until moving to Virginia Beach, Virginia in September of 1997. Heidi adjusted very well to our move. I was very easy for her to meet new people and make new friends. She loved living here in Virginia Beach with the ocean the warm weather and had commented on numerous occasions how friendly people were here in Virginia.
While living in Ohio, Heidi was a pitcher for the girls fastpitch team, she was a cheerleader and also played basketball.Heidi also had a love for fishing She received numerous trophies for her athletics. She played coronet in the school band and received an Honorary Musician trophy for the school year 1995-96. She was an Honor student at Black River School in Ohio and also at Indian River School in Virginia.
On April 19, 1998, Heidi and her friend Vicki went to Indian River Lanes for Rock-N-Bowl like they did every Saturday night. This particular weekend I was in Richmond Virginia at a convention. I had made arrangements for Heidi to stay with Vicki’s family while I was away. Heidi and Vicki decided to call the arranged transportation home and let them know that they had a ride home. They never made it home. Heidi, Vicki, Daniel and Michael decided to ride home with the 16 year old driver. The 16 year old had been drinking beer earlier in the evening. When they left the bowling alley he began to drive recklessly, 65 in a 45 and was turning off his lights playing ghost. He lost control of the ford bronco and it rolled 8 times. All children were ejected. Heidi was the last to be ejected and the only one who did not survive the accident. Her brain stem had been crushed and optic nerve severed.
I received a call in my hotel room at 3:30 a.m. on April 19, 1998 from Virginia Beach police stating that my daughter had been involved in a critical auto accident. When I arrived at Virginia Beach General Hospital Trauma Unit, there I found my beautiful daughter being kept alive by life support. She looked so peaceful laying in the hospital bed. She did not have one mark on her face from the accident, it was all severe head trauma. On April 20, 1998 she was declared clinically brain dead. The neurosurgeon came to me and asked me if I would consider donating her organs. I did not even have to give it a second thought.
Within 24 hours all of her organs had been placed. At 3:30 a.m. on April 21, 1998 all surgical teams had been flown in to the hospital and they were ready to take my beautiful daughter into surgery. I walked at my daughters side down the hall and into the elevator and down to the surgery room doors and stood there in shock, disbelief and horror as they took her through the doors knowing that I would never see my beautiful daughter again.
Two weeks after she was taken from us I wrote letters to all of the recipients. Within two months I had received a response from every recipient. To date I have received numerous letters, plaques and flowers. On May 29, 1999 I had the wonderful experience of meeting Heidi’s kidney recipients. I cannot even explain in words what a wonderful reunion it was. This reunion has really made a difference in the way I have been dealing with Heidi’s death. I know now that Heidi still lives on and what a wonderful feeling this is.
Diane Sewalish June 1999
You may write to Dianne Sewalish through the Organ and Tissue Donor Feature Coordinator Kathryn Flynn. Send an email to Kathryn