Teen's organs saved three others after bike crash death

Willow's family said their daughter was a "real go-getter". Photo: Willow Stone via NZ Herald
Willow's family said their daughter was a "real go-getter". Photo: Willow Stone via NZ Herald
A "selfless, caring" teenager has given the gift of life to three others after losing her own life in a bicycle crash.

Willow Stone (14) from Gisborne died on Sunday after suffering severe head injuries in the accident, which happened after she rode her bike out of a driveway and collided with a van.

Now her family have spoken out on her decision to donate her organs and how, even in death, their "baby girl" continues to have a positive effect on her community,

Her mother Rachael Stone told The Gisborne Herald she wanted the community's conversations to be about the legacy of organ donation, not about the accident that claimed Willow's life.

Willow was a free spirit, her mother said.

"Her personality was always bubbly, friendly, loving, caring and empathetic to everybody she met.

"(She was) a real go- getter, up for anything fun.

"On the day she had her accident, Willow and her friend were getting ready for another action-packed day, whether this involved surfing, skating or any other typical teenage shenanigans. This day was not meant to be any different, but it was.

"We unfortunately have lost a beautiful soul, our baby girl.

"Willow's selfless caring nature blessed three people with her organs."

One of the recipients was also a teenage girl, Stone said.

"We had spoken about organ donation in the past. Both our children felt this is what they needed to do if something like this were to happen. No way did we ever think this could happen to our family. As cruel as life can be, this has happened to us, so Willow's wishes were carried out.

"There are so many people to thank. The incredible nurses, doctors, specialists, surgeons, ambulance, helicopter service, police and other members of our community who worked tirelessly, some working into overtime or welcomed picking up the extra shift to help care for our baby.

"We watched the humanity of their grief, alongside ours, as we journeyed through this together. Everyone worked so incredibly hard, and we are forever grateful.

"I need to mention a message that was sent to me from a nurse who cared for Willow up at the hospital. She expressed that after 22 years of nursing and seeing so many tragedies in her career, Willow has given her back the passion to keep caring for others.

"The experience was transformative for many, which the surgeon also shared via a phone call."

Detective Sergeant Eric Hunter said Willow suffered a severe head injury in the accident, which involved a van.

Nearby residents reportedly carried out CPR on Willow until emergency services arrived and she was stabilised on the roadside before being transported to Gisborne Hospital.

Hunter said police had completed their scene enquiries and spoken to witnesses.

"We still have to carry out an inspection of the van involved, and the bicycle.

"The driver of the van is shocked and upset about what happened," Hunter said.

"He is also being supported by Victim Support, who continue to support Willow's family."

Willow's family told the Gisborne Herald that the crash that killed Willow was a tragic accident and said they wanted to focus on celebrating her life.

"We know that the ripple effect of her death will be felt by many for a very long time," Raechel Stone said.

"We still have a rough road ahead of us as we navigate life without our baby girl. We can find some comfort in knowing Willow's selfless gift of life will help others to live on."

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