By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer
— How she died isn’t important. Where she was going, who she was with, also not important.
What is important is that, when it was clear Jessica Oliver was going to die, a decision she’d made prior to her death was about to make the difference for so many people.
Long before her life was taken away, Oliver decided that, if the situation ever arose, she wanted to donate her organs to others so that they may live.
That situation, unfortunately for her, arose March 7, the day the vehicle she was riding in with her boyfriend was broadsided by an SUV. Oliver suffered catastrophic injuries. And because it took rescue workers a long time to extract her body from the wreckage, she suffered significant brain damage. It was over.
Her family decided that based on Jessica’s wishes, they let doctors harvest her organs. But it wasn’t an easy decision to make.
“At first I was against organ donation. It felt like they were taking her away from us,” said her brother Josiah Oliver. “But now seeing the end result, it has changed my mind, and ask anyone that knows me, that’s not easy.”
Jessica’s parents lived in the Madison Lake area for about 20 years. Jessica and Josiah attended the Cleveland public school system. He said Jessica kept in contact with friends from the area after they moved to Wisconsin, and many of those friends came to the funeral — Josiah estimates that, between the wake and funeral, about 100 people drove from the Madison Lake/Cleveland area to attend.
“ The showing from the Cleveland area was extraordinary,” he said.
He said Jessica was an exceptional volleyball and basketball player. She also ran track.
Jessica had been going to school to be a nurse, and was a lifelong lover of animals. In fact, when she died, donations accepted at her funeral were earmarked for the local humane society.
“ She was a pretty easygoing girl. She loved life. For her the bad days weren’t too bad, and good days were exceptional,” Josiah said. “ She’d be legitimately upset when someone else was having a bad day.”
Seeing that spirit live, he said, is what has made the decision to donate her organs such an important one.
In a letter to the family, a University of Wisconsin transplant director told them how each of Jessica’s organs were used.
“ We were able to recover Jessica’s liver, heart, lung, pancreas and kidney. Her liver was transplanted into a patient from Wisconsin who suffered from endstage liver failure. This patient had been on the waiting list since November 2012.
“Her heart was transplanted into a patient from Wisconsin who suffered from end-stage heart failure. This patient had been on the waiting list since December 2012.
“Her lung was transplanted into a patient from Wisconsin who suffered form end-stage respiratory failure. This patient had been on the waiting list since June 2012.
“Her pancreas was transplanted into a patient from Wisconsin who suffered from end-stage pancreatic failure. This patient had been on the waiting list since February 2013.
“Her left kidney was referred to a transplant center in Washington where it was transplanted into a patient who suffered from end-state renal failure. This patient had been on the waiting list for approximately ten years.”
Josiah said that, when the family is ready, they want to meet the people who got Jessica’s organs.
Especially the heart. They want to look into the eyes of the people who are alive today because of Jessica, and see of little bit of her spirit.