Parents celebrate life, mourn loss of 17-month-old daughter

Parents celebrate life, mourn loss of 17-month-old daughter

By Julie Steller, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network

The notes below reference the recent passing of Diamond Ashley Persson, 17-month-old daughter of Gift of Hope volunteer Derek Persson.

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to meet the Persson family, I would like to take this opportunity to “introduce you” to some very special people, whom have become dear friends of mine.

Derek and Ginger Persson reside in Poplar Grove, Ill. I met Derek in January 2002 when he and his mother joined the “Life Goes On” effort in Rockford. They were celebrating their one-year transplant anniversary.

Derek’s mother was the recipient of his living kidney donation. While celebrating this special anniversary, they were also facing some very real fears. Shortly after their January 2001 transplant, Derek and Ginger Persson celebrated yet another miracle, a child to be born in the fall. Little did anyone know that Diamond’s October birth would bring news of another transplant need. Soon after Diamond’s birth, conversations turned to the world of “bone marrow transplant.” Meanwhile, Derek’s mother was listed for a pancreas. Diamond’s grandma received her pancreas in June 2002. Betty Persson of Roscoe is a tireless proponent of donation and transplant. Despite the most amazing efforts and displays of courage, Diamond Ashley Persson passed away unexpectedly March 29 due to complications following esophagus surgery.

I ask each of you to please take a moment for a special thought or prayer on behalf of Diamond and this very special family.

Diamond’s photograph and obituary can be found at As noted, a fund has been established in Diamond’s name in an effort to assist her family with the enormous costs incurred due to her illness and medical needs.

As each and every one of you who works tirelessly to increase public awareness of the critical need for donation during “National Donate Life Month,” Diamond’s memory will motivate us further, her brightly shining star shall burn forever strong. Please say a special prayer for Diamond, all transplant recipients, the families that have said “yes” to donation, and the thousands of people in our country whose time has “run out” before that life-saving transplant and/or transfusion was possible.

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