Kelly Nachreiner

Organ Donor
Age 16 - Madison, WI
Date Of Donation: 1/4/00
Hospital: University of Wisconsin Hospital

Kelly Nachreiner was a unique sixteen year old girl. In many ways she was all girl, loving the typical girl activities like shopping, manicures, pedicures, make-up, etc. Conversely, she enjoyed hanging out with her many guy friends, talking cars, playing euchre and loved combing the woods for nuts and berries with her dad and even a little

deer hunting.

 

In high school, she excelled in sports: tennis, basketball and soccer. In fact, she made the varsity soccer team her freshman year and played in the state tournament with her older sister, Nicole.

 

Being the middle of two talkative sisters, Kelly was quiet but strong. She was lighthearted and a peacemaker. If someone would get upset about something, her standard comment was Whatever and then she would focus on something fun. Kelly was creative, kind, loved nature, had a characteristic giggle and was voted Best Eyes of the sophomore class. One of her best attributes was her kindness. We were told by many in her high school that Kelly was always friendly to everyone, even kids who were often excluded. We always said to know Kelly was to love her.

 

December 29, 1999 is the day that life for our family changed forever. Kelly was in a car accident while riding with a friend. She sustained a severe closed head injury and was airlifted to the University of Wisconsin Hospital. Although she never regained consciousness, her very large extended family and friends were thankful to have six days to hope, pray and eventually say our final goodbyes to Kelly on January 4, 2000.

 

As devastating as it was to say goodbye to Kelly, we have always been thankful that four weeks before her accident, the question of organ donation came up at the department of motor vehicles when she was getting her drivers permit. I looked at her and said, Well, what do you think, Kel? She very simply said, Well, of course, why wouldnt I? It was an incredibly proud parental moment. Our beloved 16 year old daughter and sister was willing to give unconditionally to anyone in need. Four weeks later that decision saved the lives of three strangers.

 

Four months after her death, a Wisconsin bill (The Kelly Nachreiner Bill) was passed. It requires all drivers education programs in Wisconsin to give at least 30 minutes of instruction on organ donation. It was the first bill of its kind in the country. There are now over a dozen states with similar requirements.

 

Kelly was an ordinary girl who gave an extraordinary gift. That one kind act has had an incredible impact on not only her recipients and their families, but on thousands who have been educated about organ, tissue and eye donation in Wisconsin as well as tens of thousands in this country.

 

Although Kelly would not have been comfortable with the term Hero, her life and final gift in death exemplifies the true spirit of a hero. We were all better to have known and loved Kelly.

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