At age 9, Carlie was diagnosed with benign rolandic epilepsy. It was her family’s understanding that nearly all children outgrow the disorder – which is characterized by seizures – by age 15. Unexpectedly, when she was only 11 years old, Carlie did not recover from a severe seizure. When it was determined there were no more miracles for their little girl, Carlie’s family decided to create a miracle for another family.
Carlie was the type of young girl people feel privileged to know.
Even as a baby, said her mother, Maria, she was caring and sensitive. “She always shared her toys with her four sisters and never made a fuss about anything. She always went with the flow.”
Perhaps the most important thing to Carlie was her church and her faith. She was involved in an Awana program, attended Sunday school and always looked forward to Sunday services. Her proud parents, Wil and Maria, said Carlie’s fellow congregants were impressed by her “undying love for her Lord” and that the little girl happily shared her affection with everyone. “Her arms were always open, and she had a constant smile on her face.” Carlie was an extremely giving person.
At age 9, Carlie was diagnosed with benign rolandic epilepsy. It was her family’s understanding that nearly all children outgrow the disorder (which is characterized by seizures) by age 15. Unexpectedly, when she was only 11 years old, Carlie did not recover from a severe seizure. When it was determined there were no more miracles for their little girl, Carlie’s family decided to create a miracle for another family.
The decision to donate Carlie’s organs and corneas was such an easy one for her family to make because of the type of person Carlie was. They knew that if Carlie were able to make the choice, there would not have been a shadow of doubt in her mind that it was the right thing to do. It brings joy to her family to know that she is helping people even after her death.
Through correspondence with them, in fact, Carlie’s family knows exactly the difference their loved one’s gifts have made in the lives of those who received her corneas and organs. Her kidney went to a man who’d been so sick that he hadn’t been able to move in two and a half years. Her liver went to a mother whose own liver failed after giving birth to the child she would never have been able to hold without Carlie’s gift. And a 15-year-old boy today plays with his friends because of Carlie’s heart. Her corneas, meanwhile, provided the gift of sight for two people.
Carlie’s family looks at cornea and organ donation as an obvious and only choice. “Why not give? Every day, someone is going to die who could have been saved by an organ transplant,” said Maria. “We couldn’t save our daughter’s life, so we tried to save people through her. A part of Carlie will live through someone else.”
Whether visiting a vacation location filled with great memories or gathering on her birthday with friends, Carlie’s family feels her presence in so many ways. To further this comforting feeling, her family decided to pick something in nature to represent their love of Carlie. They picked the ladybug. Carlie thought ladybugs were beautiful and loved to draw them. Soon, ladybugs began to appear at the oddest of times—in her sister’s hair while she traveled away on a mission trip, on Maria while she rode a carousel. Each appearance brought a smile. One recent appearance, however, couldn’t have been timed better. Maria was deeply missing her Carlie and had taken Carlie’s sisters to the cemetery. When they arrived at Carlie’s resting place, one daughter yelled, “Mom, look! There’s a red ladybug on the stone!” Right at the top corner of the stone sat a beautiful ladybug. Maria said they haven’t seen the cute little creature at the site since, but its message is still loud and clear. “Carlie is whole and is home with her Savior Jesus Christ,” said Maria. “I tell my girls that our ladybug experiences are a symbol of God’s unfailing love and grace for our family.” It is also a reminder that the love they shared with Carlie is everlasting.