It had been five months since Bill Conner suddenly lost his 20-year-old daughter, Abbey, and he felt like he had to do something to honor her short life.
So, on May 22, a day after his son, Austin, graduated from college, Conner hopped on a bike and began riding across the country.
“This is what she would want me to do,” Conner told CBS News.
The dad decided to travel 2,600 miles — from his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida — to visit Broward Health Medical Center, the hospital that recovered Abbey’s organs for donation back in January.
Abbey and her brother were found unconscious, face down in a resort pool over winter break in Cancun. By the time the pair were discovered and pulled out of the water, Abbey had suffered irreversible brain injury.
She was flown to Fort Lauderdale, where she was kept on life support until doctors could harvest her organs for transplant.
Over winter break while on vacation in Cancun, Abbey and her brother were found face down unconscious in a pool. Abbey’s brother was able to make a full recovery but unfortunately, Abbey suffered from extensive, irreversible brain damage and was kept on life support until her organs could be harvested.
When describing his daughter, Conner says that to have Abbey as a friend was a privilege. “She always had your back, and for her to be helping people in need [after death]–that just fits who she is.” Abbey donated four organs to four males ages 20 to 60 with life-threatening conditions. She also donated her eyes and other tissues.
While Conner said goodbye to his daughter, there was another family gearing up to do the same to their son. A 21-year-old man, Loumouth Jack Jr. from Lafayette, Louisiana had suffered a heart attack and rapid heart failure. “He was given ten days to live,” said Conner, “and with Abbey and the way things went, he’s alive today.”