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Valerie Lakey and Abigail Taylor > Great Figures in Transplant / Non-Transplant History

Posted Feb 06 2010 12:00am
Usually the need for an organ transplant arises from underlying chronic illness.

Typically, a person and his or her family spends time – sometimes years – dealing with this illness whilst hoping and praying that the right transplant might come along.

Sometimes, depending on the nature of the illness,  they might seek to influence the timing of this transplant.  They might move to an area with a better organ donation rate (such as the Australian State of South Australia).

Kidney patients might accept a living donation from a family member or, less typically, from a stranger.  (Or less typically still and more illegally, seek to buy a kidney.)

But this is all from an ongoing underlying illness that develops over several years.  A monkey on your back for sure, but one you at least get used to carrying.

What of the person who finds themselves catapulted into this world from accident or injury?

In this series, we meet Valerie Lakey (b. 1988) and Abigail Taylor (2001-2008) who became actual or potential transplant recipients as a result of a dreadful accidents.

These two little girls received grave and quite horrific internal injuries as a result of sitting on the drains of wading pools.

Valerie is described as a potential liver and kidney transplant recipient, as a result of her injuries.

In seeking to treat Abigail’s injuries, doctors gave her a triple transplant – small intestine, liver and pancreas.
Ultimately, these efforts failed, and Abigail passed on in 2008.

But her legacy was that the then-President George W Bush enacted in 2007 a federal law providing incentives for states to adopt comprehensive pool safety laws.

(Wikipedia notes that similar laws had been adopted in at least two states of Australia 20 years earlier.)

It is a matter of great regret that it took such an awful accident to focus the attention of lawmakers on this matter.

But at least Abigail‘s memory lives on with this accomplishment.

Articles on these two Great Figures in Transplant / Non-Transplant History include the following.  (Reader advisory:  some articles include descriptions of horrific internal injuries.)

1Abigal Taylor
Abigail Taylor

  • Abbey’s hope – a blog by her parents on their work in promoting pool engineering safety
  • Copy of deposition in her parents’ lawsuit against the pool manufacturer (PDF file)

Valerie Lakey


The image of Valerie Lakey with her parents is from the website Valerie Lakey and John Edwards.

This particular image of Abigail Taylor appears in a number of sources, including the blog Mazatlán México Daily Photo.
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