When Southwest Captain Vinny Gallagher's daughter Kate was placed on the waiting list for a liver transplant in 2009, he and his wife Gail did not expect her to become an organ donor instead of a recipient â€“ but that is exactly what happened.
The 2005 Air Academy High School graduate was diagnosed with Budd-Chiari Syndrome, a clotting disease of the liver, during her senior year and was placed on the transplant list four years later. Known for her joyous spirit, compassionate heart, and special way with young children, Kate went on to study early childhood development at Pikes Peak Community College, work with elementary students, and become engaged to be married.
Tragically, Kate suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on March 12, 2012, and passed away before she could receive a new liver. She was 26-years-old. As a registered organ, eye, and tissue donor, she saved three lives that day: one of her kidneys went to a grandfather of five, the other went to a grandmother, and her heart went to a 12-year-old girl who had suffered a heart attack on the basketball court. The Gallagher family met Tony, one of the kidney recipients last November in his hometown of Nucla, CO, and also met the heart recipient, Cassandra and her family.