On March 3, 2018, Ryan and Emily, the co-founders of the Luena Foundation, had a sleep-over party at their house with three of their children’s friends. Throughout the evening there was homemade pizza, popcorn and plenty of dancing. The kids wound down by watching the movie CoCo and were all tucked into to bed shortly after midnight.
Emily and Ryan were drifting off to sleep when their son and his friend rushed into their room to inform them that Luena, the 11 year-old daughter of two of their closest friends and one of the children staying at their house, had suddenly sat up in bed and was complaining of a bad headache.
Ryan and Emily immediately knew that something was wrong when, five minutes later, Luena became completely unresponsive. They quickly escorted her to an ambulance and she was taken the Children’s Hospital in Malaga.
While everyone initially thought that Luena had suffered from an epileptic attack, they found out later that morning that things were actually much worse… she had been diagnosed with a massive brain hemorrhage/stroke near her brain stem, the part of the brain that controls practically everything.
After being in a coma 8 days, this sweet little girl passed away at 3:30pm on Sunday, March 11, 2018. She was surrounded by her entire family.
Luena’s story continues… Despite the fact that her parents were paralyzed by their grief, they mustered all their strength and made the selfless decision to donate their daughter’s organs to five other children throughout Spain, including to an eight-year old boy who would have died within days if it were not for the gift of their little girl’s heart.
The decision to create a foundation in Luena’s name sprung from the tears that were shed over Luena during those long days and nights in the hospital. To have known Luena during the short time she was here in her physical form was a gift. The notion that she had been with us and then suddenly was no more was inconceivable to all of her friends and family, so we jointly decided to continue her legacy by reaching out to children throughout the world and offering life-changing aid to those who need it most. In this way, our beautiful little friend will live forever.
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
― Shannon L. Alder