Milford, DE Mother Heals through Daughter’s Organ Donation
For firefighter and EMT, Laura Mallow, one of the hardest challenges she ever faced was not being able to save her 17-year-old daughter, Brittney Ford. In December 2014, Laura was at the fire station decorating fire trucks for Christmas when she heard a dispatcher announce an accident. A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle – and they gave Laura’s home address.
“I knew it was Brittney.” said Laura. “I asked a co-worker to drive me to the hospital, and doctors said that she had no broken bones and thought she would come out of it. I knew something was wrong. And the next morning, she still hadn’t come to.”
The driver who had hit Brittney was her younger sister’s boyfriend – and her sister was in the car. It was a tragic accident. After hours of waiting and testing, Brittney’s family was told that she had sustained a traumatic injury, and that the blood had been cut off from her brain, causing her to have a stroke on both sides of her brain.
Brittney was pronounced brain dead, and Laura immediately thought to contact Gift of Life. As an EMT, Laura has helped transport many individuals to the hospital to be transplanted. She understood how sick people on the waitlist are, and how much someone saying ‘yes’ to donation could help. “The best decision that I ever made was reaching out to Gift of Life. I had to make some good out of this tragedy. My daughter was gone, but I thought why not give life to someone else.” Laura said.
Laura wasn’t the only person in her family who was a fire fighter. It was also a passion that Brittney shared. At just 17, she knew she wanted to devote her life to helping others. She was committed to firefighting, and received a junior fire fighters award, which has now been renamed the Brittney Ford Award in her honor. Not many people can say that they reached their life’s goals by the age of 17, but Brittney did. “She was able to be an organ and tissue donor and saved the lives of five people. I felt a sense of hope knowing that so many people were able to be helped by Brittney’s gifts.” said her mother.
Even in the midst of Laura’s most painful moment in life, she chose to help others through organ and tissue donation.
Brittney was very involved in her local community, and there was an outpouring of support after her death. Her funeral had to be held over two days to accommodate the more than 2,000 people who came to pay their respects. Today, Laura still grieves the loss of her daughter, but is able to find hope through Brittney’s legacy of caring. She finds great comfort knowing that Brittney’s recipients are healthy and living full lives.
“Through Gift of Life, we’ve been able to write to some of her recipients. We’ve even met one, Natalie, who received one of Brittney’s kidneys. We’ve formed a strong bond with her and her family, and it brings a smile to my face to know she is doing well. Words cannot explain the joy that brings to my broken heart.” she said. “We’ve heard from all but one of her recipients. To hear the stories and understand just how sick they were – and that my daughter is responsible for saving their lives – is just amazing. Brittney is our hero and we are so proud of the impact that she has had. Her recipients will always have a space in our hearts and in our lives!”
Laura and her family created a fire camp, called Camp Bruiser, in Brittney’s honor. Laura described Brittney as a rough and tumble girl, which is where the name came from. Camp Bruiser is the first fire camp in Delaware, and educates 14-17 year olds about becoming a fire fighter. More information is available on Facebook through the Brittney Lynn Ford Memory Page and Camp Bruiser.