To the editor:
Our daughter Abbie was not just any kid. At 12 years old, she was wise beyond her years – an old soul if you will. Sure, Abbie could be goofy and emotional, especially when it was her turn to wash dishes, but she was also sweet, compassionate and carefree. Abbie was confident and had an infectious personality that drew people to her. Her unmatched energy might have something to do with keeping up with three older brothers. Abbie excelled in the classroom, was a Girl Scout, liked riding her bike, loved music, playing soccer and swimming. Her favorite musical was “Hamilton” and we had planned to take her to New York City to see the show on Broadway for her 13th birthday. Sadly, that trip never happened. In February 2021 when I came home from work, my son Sam mentioned Abbie was breathing strangely. She seemed okay, but I took her to the local ER as a precaution. Doctors ran tests and discovered Abbie’s blood sugar was elevated. They determined she likely had undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. Out of an abundance of caution, doctors recommended Abbie be admitted to Inova Fairfax Children’s Hospital for a CT scan and to learn more about lifestyle changes we’d have to make due to her diagnosis. Shortly after arriving at Inova Fairfax, Abbie unexpectedly coded in the CT, and doctors and nurses rushed into her room to “get her back.” Standing outside the CT room with my husband in disbelief, we waited for news. She was critical but stable, so they brought her back to her room.
She coded once more and was again able to be resuscitated. After doctors stabilized her, it seemed the worst was behind us as Abbie watched TV, texted her friends and communicated with us. But then another heartbreaking turn of events. Abbie became agitated, eventually unresponsive and was declared brain dead due to complications from acute onset Diabetic Keto Acidosis.
Within 72 hours, we lost the heartbeat of our family. Now 10 months later, I still cannot put our shock into words.
Despite our grief, we decided to donate Abbie’s organs. I knew without a doubt she would have wanted to help others. As devastating as it was to lose our baby girl, we knew if she couldn’t use her organs why wouldn’t we give them to someone who could? Now, her organ donation is a bright light in this painful experience. Still, we will miss Abbie’s larger-than-life presence around the Christmas tree this year.
I feel at peace knowing the holidays will be very different in a good way for the four people Abbie saved through her lifesaving organ donations. A dad in his 30s received one of Abbie’s kidneys and now can spend more time with his family. Her other kidney went to a woman in her 20s who was very ill but now can follow her passion and travel the world. She also plans to work in nursing.
A woman in her 60s received both of Abbie’s lungs and with every renewed breath she takes I imagine she is grateful to have a second chance at life. Lastly, a teenage boy received Abbie’s liver and now can go on to graduate from high school and accomplish his dreams.
While our hearts are breaking celebrating the first Christmas without our Abbie, we know we would regret it if we didn’t say “yes” to organ donation on her behalf. I understand people are hesitant to think about their mortality, but I implore you to be part of the miracle and register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at BeADonor.org.
We founded the Abigail C Bachmore Memorial Foundation Inc. to keep Abbie’s memory alive, which raises awareness about pediatric organ donation and pediatric diabetes. We hope to spread kindness and prevent other families from experiencing similar pain.
-Beth Bachmore, Alexandria