An Eagle family's life-giving decision

Shauna Hill's family donated her organs after her death in 2012.

April is National Donate Life Month. KTVB is partnering with "Yes Idaho" to raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation. Throughout the month, we are telling stories about people affected by organ donation.

People like the Hill family of Eagle.

"We need to have open discussions about these things because it could happen in anybody's family," said Heidi Hill. "I never thought in a million years that this would happen in my family."

In their time of devastating loss, the Hill family made a life-giving decision to donate their daughter Shauna's organs when she died after a car crash. 

Shauna was a violinist in the Eagle High School Orchestra.

"She referred to herself as an '"orch dork" and proud of it," said Shauna's mom Heidi Hill.

She was a committed, competitive figure skater who practiced four or five early mornings every week.

"Those are some of our most memorable moments together because it was quiet. Nobody else was out on the road. It was 4:30, five o'clock in the morning," said Heidi Hill.

A good friend.

"We always thought of her as our child of the United Nations because she had such a diverse friendship group."

A great daughter.

"She used to get up in the morning when we would go to the rink and she would start my coffee and say 'mother I made you a piece of toast.'"

And an organ donor.

"It's like a double-edged sword," said Heidi Hill. "It's a joyful thing, but it comes from the roots of sadness."

Shauna Hill was a 16-year-old junior at Eagle High School. She died several days after a car crash at the intersection of Highway 16 and Floating Feather Road in December of 2012.

"She was my friend, and when I lost her initially all I could think was 'oh my gosh, I lost my child' and it felt like I lost a piece of my skin or an appendage," said Hill.  "All I could think of is how am I ever going to survive and live without her. And I can't believe I've come this far. It's been four-and-a-half years."

Heidi Hill says that's partly because the family's decision to donate Shauna's organs gives them some peace.

"Organ donation is about sharing time and giving people the opportunity of creating memories and having additional moments together."

Shauna's gift saved the lives of at least five people. A woman in her 20s, Molly Girard of Yakima, Washington, received Shauna's heart. The Hills got to meet her.

"I was able to hear Shauna's heart again. The first thing Molly did when we got to her home was she pulled out a stethoscope and said 'you might want to hear this,'" said Hill. "When I heard her heartbeat it was just, yes!"

A living example of the importance of organ donation. 

"And this gives her a chance to have a second chance to live and have a life. She was able to get married last summer," said Hill.

And Heidi believes Shauna would agree with the donation decision. A generous girl who would say something like... "Thank you for doing this. Thank you for sharing my legacy.' I think she would love it," said Heidi Hill.

"Yes Idaho" says nearly 120,000 people in the United States are waiting for organs. A single donor can save up to nine lives.

If you would like more information on organ, eye and tissue donation and how to register as a donor, click here.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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