Remembering Mandi: Clinical therapist Karen Belliveau shares family experience with donation through heartfelt letter
Church Point, N.S.
Amanda “Mandi” Diane LeBlanc continues to live through the bodies and souls of others. This is possible even though she died on All Hallows' Day 2012. How does she live on after death you may ask? She lives as she gave the gift of life to others. Mandi is their “raison d'être” in the most literal sense of the meaning. She is their reason for being, just as she was ours.
The gift of life, which was her choice to give, would now be allocated to others. This was our lifeline, our focal point and we clung to the understanding that Mandi could not only live on but also save the lives of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. These people are like you and I, people who are loved and love in return, people who have dreams and fervently hope for the quality of life we often take for granted.
This knowledge brought her family solace and an indescribable comfort at a time where we were beyond devastated. When Mandi died tragically at the young age of 23, absolutely nothing made sense. Our worlds collapsed into the shadow of a profound loss yet we rallied together for one purpose. This purpose sustained us like nothing else as we were driven to honor Mandi’s last request.
Before her death, I was a burgeoning therapist uncertain of my worth in the face of the people I was dedicated to serve. Yet Mandi assured me in her quiet and thoughtful voice, “If you can help even one person…only one… that is more than enough.” Mandi not only saved the life of one, she saved the lives of many. My family received a letter from an organ recipient. A very real reminder that Mandi’s organs and tissues sustain life within others.
On April 27, 2014 Mandi was recognized for selflessly giving the gift of life by the Province of Nova Scotia at a prestigious ceremony. Shivers still run through me as I recall how we were surrounded by recipients and their families. We were awestruck by the sheer gratitude displayed by them and their tremendous love for donors and for Mandi. This experience grounded us then, just as the echoes of her honorable actions continue to carry us through our days of longing, of missing her now.
Mandi never had the chance to give birth yet she was able to give life. The knowledge that she exists as a life force remains to be an unparalleled gift to her family and friends.
She is a hero.
Mandi’s aunt, on behalf of Mandi’s loving family