Chelsey Updike knew from a young age that she wanted to be an organ donor someday. That day came unexpectedly when her 16-year-old life was cut short by a drunk driver in May 2021.
Chelsey’s older sister Mackenzie Hernandez was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect prior to being born in 1999. Mackenzie defied odds by living past birth but needed a new heart. Unfortunately, she was never stable enough to be a transplant candidate. She passed at 3 months old, inspiring her family to become advocates for organ donation.
“My kids have always known about Mackenzie’s story and what she needed for her heart transplant,” Chelsey and Mackenzie’s mother, Sarah Updike, said. “It was always something we discussed in our family.”
When Sarah was faced with the decision to donate Chelsey’s organs, she was confident in fulfilling her daughter’s wishes. “Even though this was such a tragedy, knowing that she saved four other people’s lives makes my life complete.”
Chelsey’s legacy lives on through her recipients. Sarah has been able to communicate with several of them and takes comfort in knowing “that someone else’s dreams were made whole by the choice to give.”