NEW YORK—"This is my daily mission. I can’t imagine ever stopping. Because Heather will always remind me, there’s work to do," Judy Trew said.
Heather Trew was just seven years old when she ingested a very bad strain of E. coli at a picnic.
It almost killed her and badly damaged her kidney.
She spent years in and out of hospitals, but was fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant from her aunt.
"My husband and I were so disappointed that we were not able to be her donors. And my sister was like please test me. I’m just amazed by that," Trew reflected.
It was during those hospital stays that Heather first encountered other people who needed a transplant, many of them not as lucky as her.
"I remember the day we were in the transplant clinic and Heather said, mom we’re going to do something about this. And I said do something about what Heather? And she said about all these people that are waiting. She met so many people and some died while waiting," Trew said.
And it was just before her 20th birthday, that Heather lost her own life due to the complications and damage to her organs from that E. coli poisoning.
"We understood how important her mission was and so shortly after she passed away, we knew that this was the right thing to do," Trew said.
So this determined mom started the Heather Trew Foundation for organ, eye and tissue donation.
There are now 16 chapters in six states and students have registered more than 19,000 people through their “Trew Friends” clubs.
"It’s so important because over 116,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ. We have the cure, it’s so simple, just be part of the solution by registering," Trew explained.
Judy says, even more importantly, you must share your decision to donate with your relatives and loved ones.
"It’s such a gift to our families to know our wishes. And why wouldn’t we leave our organs? As our final act, we have the potential to save up to 8 lives and affected over 75 people," Trew said.
Unfortunately, when Heather died, her organs were so badly damaged, she was unable to donate.
"I saw her beautiful hair and thought we can donate her hair. And we did. She really was the most courageous person I’ve ever known. And I really was inspired by this precious young girl who had so much to give to the world," Trew said.
For more on how to sign up as an organ donor, click here.