"Wherever Andrea was, she always lit up the room," said Jeff Cleveland about his sweet, fun loving, spirited 16-year-old daughter, Andrea Cleveland. On November 1, 2011, Andrea lost control of her car while driving on an unfamiliar rural road, and later died from her injuries. Jeff and Marlene honored Andrea's decision to be an organ and tissue donor, which she had proudly marked on her driver's license. Andrea's gifts of organ donation saved the lives of five people, and her gifts of tissue donation will benefit people across the country. "I am so proud of her for doing this," said her mother Marlene.
Andrea Cleveland was a sweet, fun loving, spirited 16-year-old who was always on the go. She was proud to have made the cheerleading team in the Fall of 2011. "Wherever Andrea was, she always lit up the room," shared her father Jeff. "She made people smile."
On November 1, after a day of working at a hometown bed and breakfast, shopping with her cousin and volunteering at a church benefit, Andrea asked her mother for gas money so she could visit her boyfriend, who lived 30 minutes from town. "I hesitated, but she flashed that beautiful smile and I gave in," recalled her mother Marlene. "To this day it's something I regret."
Worried that they hadn't heard from her by eleven o'clock that night, Jeff and Marlene began calling and texting Andrea's cell phone. "There was no answer," said Marlene, "And then our phone rang and it was her number, but it wasn't her voice we heard."
Andrea's boyfriend was on the line, telling them that their youngest daughter had been seriously injured in an accident just a mile from his house. Unfamiliar with the rural, gravel road, Andrea lost control of her car. She was transported to the local hospital and then airlifted to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for intensive, life-saving care.
"Her last words to me in the hospital were 'I love you, mom.' I couldn't ask for three better words," shared Marlene. Andrea later died from her injuries.
Jeff and Marlene worked with LifeSource to honor Andrea's decision to be an organ and tissue donor. "We didn't know Andrea had marked donor on her license," said Marlene. "We later found out from Andrea's friends and her brothers and her sister that she had been so proud to check the box on her license." The community rallied around the Clevelands and so many of Andrea's friends and classmates have shared that they, too, are donors in her honor.
Andrea's gifts of organ donation saved the lives of five people, and her gifts of tissue donation will benefit people across the country. Jeff and Marlene feel honored to have met two of Andrea's recipients: the little boy who received the gift of Andrea's liver, and the young woman now breathes with Andrea's lungs.
"I am so proud of her for doing this," said Marlene. "The accident was going to happen whether she marked 'donor' or not. If she hadn't signed up, those people would have gone through the same thing we went through. Because of Andrea, they made it."