ALEXANDRIA, La. — The last thing Chasity Tassin said to her daughter was “I love you.”
Aliyah Moran was used to ending conversations with her mother that way. If there was one thing Tassin and Andrew Moran believed in, it was “tell your children every single day that you love them, because tomorrow isn’t promised,” Tassin said.
About an hour later, the phone rang, telling Chasity and Andrew that Aliyah had been in a serious car accident. She lingered for six days in the hospital but never woke up, passing away on Nov. 24, 2018.
“It’s hard,” Chasity said. “But it helps if you have great faith in God. Faith, family, friends — that’s what got us through this.”
As Chasity spoke about Aliyah, she was carrying a picture of her daughter with a Bible verse to hang on the Tree of Life. The tree, which sits in the lobby of Rapides Regional medical Center, is hung with ornaments by families of people who have donated organs.
“This is for donor families to have a safe space to share their grief,” said Larabee Thompson, a family advocate with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency. Thompson hung an ornament on the tree herself, in memory of her son, Garrett, who died 12 years ago.
“Not only is (organ donation) a gift to those who receive a transplant, it can also be a gift for donor families left behind,” Thompson said. “It can give them comfort and hope that their loved one is making a difference.”
Chad and Christine Bordelon hung an ornament in memory of their son, Eric, who died in a car accident in 2016 at age 16.
Among the recipients of his organs was a child under 10.
“What brings me comfort is that little boy’s mom got a call that her child was going to live,” Christine said. “Imagine that call. Imagine how excited she was.”
Eric, his parents say, was “perfect.” Aliyah’s parents feel the same way about her.
The 21-year-old was studying to become a registered nurse while managing a McDonald’s and staying active in Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Marksville. Her mother marveled at her ability to balance everything.
“We have peace with it,” Tassin said, “because she gave the gift of life, which is the greatest gift you can give. Our child saved five lives. Knowing a big part of her is now in someone else, and they’re able to press on and live their lives ... I know she’s smiling in Heaven.”