Out of Grief Sprouts a Life-Saving Legacy


You don’t have to be rich, famous or even an adult to leave a memorable legacy that can change lives.

Just ask Stacey Oglesby of Lockwood, Mo., whose 15-year-old daughter, Colbey, died in a car accident in 2001. Colbey had told her mother that when she got her driver’s license, she was going to sign up to be an organ donor. So when hospital personnel asked about organ donation, Ms. Oglesby said, “we had no hesitancy.”

Seven people got Colbey’s organs. Her lungs went to Valerie Vandervort, a 29-year-old Oklahoma woman with cystic fibrosis. In the nine years since, Ms. Vandervort has run three 5K races, hiked a mountain, danced at her sister’s wedding, doted on her nieces and nephews, and won medals in swimming at the 2010 National Kidney Foundation United States Transplant Games.

Ms. Oglesby also befriended the recipient of Colbey’s heart, Judy Kaufman of Chesterfield, Mo., who was near death with congestive heart failure. When they met, Ms. Oglesby took a stethoscope to listen to the beat of her daughter’s heart.

Ms. Oglesby, who speaks often about Colbey’s legacy, said she has inspired others to become potential organ donors. If not for donating her daughter’s organs and connecting to the recipients, she said, “it would have been hard to get through the grief …

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