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Thursday
Nov242011

Organs From Two Murder-Suicide Victims Save 12 Lives

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(PLEASANT GARDEN, N.C.) -- Just days before Thanksgiving, tragedy was transformed to hope when two child victims of a murder-suicide in Pleasant Garden, N.C., saved a dozen lives by donating their organs.

Hannaleigh Michelle Suttles, 8, and Zachary Lee Smith, 14, have given others a second chance at life, according to the Guilford County Sheriff's Office. A third victim may soon be another organ donor.

Carolina Donor Services reported that Zach's organs saved seven lives, and Hanna's saved five.

The young organ donors were killed when Mary Ann Holder went on a shooting rampage Sunday, killing five, including both her sons and the niece she was raising. She then turned the gun on herself.

Her nephew Richard Suttles, 17, whom she was raising with Hanna, was still in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the head. "He's still hanging on," said Deputy Durand Dulin of the Guilford County Sheriff's Office.

"Like the saying goes, out of tragedy comes something," said Dulin. "It's just so sad that so many lives had to be taken for someone else to survive. But it is a blessing."

Holder, 36, drove to three locations and shot six victims before turning the gun on herself. Police said she left two notes at her home, but would not reveal the contents.

Because not many children die and there is a lack of awareness about organ donation, more than 1,900 children under the age of 18 still sit on the national waiting list, according to ABC's Dr. Richard Besser.

More than 110,000 people are waiting for life-saving organ transplants nationally, according to the Carolina Donor Services. Of those, 3,400 are in North Carolina. More than 28,000 waiting for transplants were helped in 2010.

One person can save up to eight lives with their transplantable organs, which include the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, small intestines, and tissue donations, which can benefit up to 50 people.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio