VALPARAISO | Rhonda Berger's 19-year-old daughter, Jennifer Spurgeon, died in an apartment fire five years ago.
It's a tragic event that was turned into a life-saving event for three other individuals, all recipients of her daughter's donated organs, Berger said.
"Pieces of her are still out there ... It has been very healing for us," Berger said.
Berger, a registered nurse who lives in Winamac, spoke briefly Tuesday prior to a flag-raising ceremony in observance of National Donate Life Month at Porter Regional Hospital.
Hospital CEO Steve Lunn, who read a proclamation designating it Porter Donate Life Day, said there are more than 1,500 Indiana residents and 120,000 Americans now on the transplant waiting list.
"Every 10 minutes someone is added to the list and sadly, 18 people die each day awaiting a transplant ... I encourage all in our community to think about their loved ones and to consider becoming a donor," Lunn said.
Berger said her vivacious, blond daughter, whose photo she carries on a chain around her neck, signed up to become an organ donor at age 16 when she first received her drivers license.
"I knew what her wishes were but I never thought we would have to put it into play," Berger said.
She said her daughter in early 2009 was attending school at the International Business College in Fort Wayne and studying to become a veterinary technician.
A fire that started in a lower apartment unit, from where her daughter lived, trapped her and two other young women who also were killed, Berger said.
Her daughter's kidneys and liver were donated to three individuals including a woman in her early 60s and a 17-year-old young man, both of whom she had met and bonded with on numerous occasions.
"Seeing their lives blossom with Jennifer's gifts has been healing," Berger said.