British Columbia

'Her life has purpose': Maple Ridge mom on donating her daughter's organs following fatal car crash

"This has at least given us some kind of purpose," said Madeline's mom, Tara Stroup as she pleas for more families to have the conversation surrounding organ donation.

Madeline Stroup, 23, died in hospital after spending 7 days in a coma

Tara Stroup holds a photograph of her 23-year-old daughter, Madeline, who died after she was injured in a crash late last month. (Tara Stroup )

A Maple Ridge mom is issuing a plea after five people got a second chance at life following her daughter's death. 

Madeline Stroup was critically injured in a crash when the pickup truck she was in collided with an SUV on July 26 in Abbotsford. 

Her boyfriend, 22-year-old Hayden Turcotte, died at the scene, and a third passenger was injured. The 70-year-old man driving the SUV suffered minor injuries.

Stroup was in a coma for seven days following the incident before she was taken off life support. 

Madeline Stroup while on a trip to Disneyland with her family. (Tara Stroup )

That's when her mom, Tara Stroup, says they made the difficult decision to donate her organs. A decision, they didn't know her daughter had already made by registering as a donor almost two years ago. 

"It was just this beautiful moment of us just feeling like we knew it was the right thing to do but now we really knew," Stroup said. "It was just amazing. We all kind of broke down and cried."

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But she says the tears were happy tears, noting it is difficult to be sure of what the person would have wanted. She says that's why it's vital to have those conversations with your loved ones, no matter the age. 

"It's such an important conversation," Stroup added. "Young people don't think about these things."

In a letter sent to the family, the B.C. Transplant Society says Madeline's decision saved the lives of five people. Her heart, liver and kidneys were donated, as well as her pancreas islet cells.

Madeline Stroup and Hayden Turcotte pictured together. Tara Stroup says the two met eight months ago and had been inseparable ever since. (Tara Stroup )

"When they were going to take her and we knew that she could give her heart, which we were happy with, [my husband] said 'you better be careful, because when you open her up, you might find two hearts in there,'" Stroup added.

She says knowing Madeline's organs helped save someone else's loved one has helped them find meaning following an unimaginable loss. 

"This has at least given us some kind of purpose, her life has purpose, and through this process it's given us some comfort," she added.

Donors needed

"An organ donor can save up to eight lives, and that's tremendous," said Edward Ferre, provincial operations director with the B.C. Transplant Society. "I know that it gives families solace in knowing that in a usually untimely and tragic death they were able to save up to eight lives."

He says registering to donate can also bring comfort to families by removing the burden of having to make a decision for someone during a difficult time. 

Close to 1.5 million B.C. residents are registered as organ donors, but Ferre suspects only about 20 to 30 per cent are younger donors. 

"There's always a need for organ donations," he added. "I just encourage everyone to register to be an organ donor."