Donation Celebrates Brief but Magical Life
There’s a trail in the woods near the coastal community of Seabrook, Wash., dotted with miniature, whimsical houses for the gnomes that give the hike its name.
On that trail you will find a bench in memory of Isla Cameron. It is a perfect setting to remember a bright, imaginative, and beautiful girl who only lived 10 years, but with enough spirit and joy to fill 10 lifetimes.
“Isla was a just a ball of energy,” said Rebecca Cameron, Isla’s mother.
Isla loved to travel and to visit local parks. At the Washington coast, she was not afraid of the cold water or the surf, wading far into the beach until the waves would wash over her.
Isla loved animals, even volunteering to read books to cats at the animal shelter.
She had few close friends, but those she had she loved sincerely and completely. She and her best friend Lexi would spend hours playing Roblox, building worlds and chasing adventures together.
She idealized her older brother Quinn, and worried about him to the point of tears every time he got in trouble.
At school, she excelled in language arts and loved her free time at recess. She wandered every corner of the yard, spinning and floating from place to place like a happy butterfly, laughing and chatting to herself.
“This girl had no worries,” Rebecca said.
Isla passed away two years ago, in her sleep. The cause has not been fully determined, but it has been classified as Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC), the name given to instances when a child older than 12 months dies from unexplained causes.
No parent will ever be prepared to lose their child, and Rebecca and her family were devastated. When they received the call from SightLife to talk about donating Isla’s corneas, their first reaction was to say no.
“We paused for a moment. Then we said, there’s no question that this is what Isla would have wanted,” Rebecca said.
Isla’s corneas were transplanted in two other people, so that they could see clearly again.
“Thank God that we did it,” Rebecca said. “There’s tremendous comfort knowing that a piece of her is still living in somebody else, even improving their lives.”
Rebecca said the donation process, and the family support services provided by SightLife, have helped her and her family to process the pain and grief of losing Isla.
The family has also started a foundation in Isla’s honor, to cherish her memory and to bring awareness and support research into SUDC. The Shine for Isla Foundation supports “random acts of kindness,” Rebecca said, such as sending coffee cards to all the staff who worked at a local hospital ward.
They also draw comfort from the priceless memories of Isla’s short but generously lived life. Her bench at Seabrook’s Gnome Trail was officially installed last year. Knowing that strangers will use it to take a rest in the beautiful woods, and indulge in the fantasy of magical creatures, gives them great joy.