The life of a 24-year-old woman was cut short by a bike crash, but her decision to become an organ donor gave life. On Monday, her mother met in Northern Virginia three of the five people who received the young woman's organs.
Stacie Farmer, a recent college graduate, was killed in 2010 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where she was working as a rafting instructor. She was a free spirit who loved to travel and never seemed to meet a stranger, her mother, Cathi Farmer, said.
"She had done so much in her life -- more than an 80-year-old person would have normally done," she said.
Always thinking of others, Stacie Farmer had told her sister, Lisa, years before her death that she wanted to be an organ donor.
"Why would I just want to be buried six feet down and not continue life if I had the opportunity to?" her mother said Lisa had relayed.
The pair flew in from Tempe, Arizona to meet the organ recipients at the Annandale, Virginia office of the Washington Regional Transplant Community. They met Sherri Halstead, who now has Stacie Farmer's pancreas and one of her kidneys. Doctors had told the diabetic she wouldn't live long without a transplant.
Cathi Farmer embraced Halstead the moment the recipient walked into the room.
"So nice to meet you," Farmer said as the women wept, and Stacie Farmer's sister joined in on the hug.
Meetings between the families of organ donors and organ recipients are rare, Washington Regional Transplant Community public affairs manager Lesley Compagnone said. Recipients feel guilty, and families decide they don't want to meet. The encounter highlights how live-saving the decision to be an organ donor can be.
"Every day, 21 people die waiting," Compagnone said. "The organ never came."
Cathi Farmer said meeting donors of her daughter's organs gave her peace. She showed Halstead photos of Stacie Farmer and told her about her life and travels.
"You have some strong organs," she said and laughed.
Before they parted, Halstead let Cathi Farmer lay her hands on her side, close to her organs.
"I was wondering exactly where it was," the mother said. "This is so special. Thank you."