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Smiling teen girl with long, curly dark hair

Mandi Christensen

Mandi only lived on this earth for 16 years, but her years were good years – years full of faith, hope, and love that she freely shared with everyone around her.

Joyce and Glenn Christensen have so many fond memories of their little girl who overflowed with love and life. They tell stories about the sweet, caring preschooler who would pray for her dolls and hug her playmates sometimes tightly enough to make them cry. She just had so much love inside of her that she couldn’t help but share it, and as she got older, that didn’t diminish. She loved to share her faith, pray with the people around her, and give enthusiastic hugs.

With so much love in Mandi’s heart, it’s no surprise to hear that she was a very giving person. Though she hadn’t gotten her own permit or driver’s license by age 16, when she heard her cousin Nick had gotten his license and registered as a donor, she told her family that she, too, wanted to register one day. Her family didn’t know that soon they would be faced with making a decision about organ, eye, and tissue donation on her behalf.

At 16, Mandi was growing into a wonderful young woman in spite of the difficulties of teenage years. She found great comfort in spending time riding her horse, Serenity, and in her faith in Jesus Christ. Sadly, it was an accident with her horse that led to Mandi’s death.

Something Mandi believed because of her strong Christian faith was the Bible verse John 15:13, which says, “There is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for his friend.” When Joyce and Glenn sat in the hospital with their daughter and were approached about donation, they thought about her faith and about the conversations she’d so recently had with family members about organ donation. They knew Mandi would want to give, and so they honored her wishes.

Joyce, Glenn, and their family are comforted in the belief that Mandi’s gifts of life and sight were the answers to others’ prayers. Mandi’s liver saved an 8-month-old baby. Her lungs restored breath to a woman in her 80s. Her kidneys have given two men more years to spend with their families and to watch their grandchildren grow. And her corneas have given two people the gift of sight. Joyce says, “I rest in the knowledge that, in some small way, Mandi’s compassion for humanity lives on in her recipients.”

As Mandi’s family continues to honor her life, her memory, and her gifts, they want others to be inspired by her donations. Joyce encourages others to register to be donors saying, “Have faith that it’s okay to share with others the gift of life, a gift of love.”