Twenty-one-year-old Kate Reinhart dearly loved animals, art, travel, the Beatles and all things connected to the British Isles. She had come home from Cornell College in Iowa to see “Riverdance” with her best friend and were thrilled when, after the show, they met the performers at a nearby Irish pub.
On February 4, 1998, Kate obtained a ride back to school with a dorm-mate. The highway, muddy due to construction, was slick that day and their car skidded sideways into an oncoming van. Kate’s friend died instantly. In spite of her seatbelt and airbag, Kate suffered a massive head injury and never regained consciousness. “When they said that Kate would not live, I remembered our talk in the kitchen, and I kept my promise,” said her mother, Lucy.
“I can still see Kate standing in our kitchen, gesturing passionately, as she told me about the episode of “Oprah” she had seen that afternoon. It had been devoted to organ donation,” recalled Lucy. “Kate was familiar with the topic, but this was the first time I had heard her speak with such conviction about the senselessness of burying healthy organs when they could save so many lives. She made me promise that if anything ever happened to her I would remember our conversation that day. We never dreamed that Kate’s pledge would change our lives.”
Kate donated seven organs, bone, tissue, and eyes. “I like to think that a physical part of Kate lives on through her donation, but I know it’s really Kate’s love and compassion for others that did not die,” continued Lucy. “Her donation allowed the bodies of strangers to heal, but it also contributed to the spiritual healing of her mother and father. I find comfort in knowing that Kate’s decision, and ultimately her final act, made a profound difference in the life of others.
“For me, Kate’s organ donation restored a sense of order in my world after it had been violently and abruptly turned upside down. We may not be in control of our lives, but we can always make meaningful choices that affirm life, love, and humanity. Kate may have given hope to others but, through organ and tissue donation, our family discovered hope as well.”