Earlier this month, on what would have been her 20th birthday, Gabby Marsh was wheeled into a surgery that would save the lives of at least six people.
Just hours earlier, the then-19-year-old was celebrating her birthday with some friends over a few drinks. Before the group was due to head out, Gabby developed a sudden headache and within the space of an hour was unconscious and on life support.
It was a brain haemorrhage, her family were told. It was sudden, unexpected and unpreventable. And she wouldn’t survive.
Talking to the New Zealand Herald, Gabby’s mother Kathryn said her daughter “loved doing things for other people” and for this reason had always intended to donate her organs.
Gabby’s organs saved the lives of at least six people; her kidney, pancreas, lungs, liver and heart valves were all successfully donated.
“Of course, more than anything, we would love to have her here, but that’s not to be,” Kathryn told the paper.
“But if anything good can come out of it, if she has helped people, then that’s comforting.”
It was within hours of her friends arriving for the birthday celebrations that Gabby developed the headache, her mother told the paper. It was “getting worse and worse”, she began throwing up and slurring her words. Suspecting a severe migraine, Kathryn called an ambulance.