TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- At 10 years old, Kathryn Chandler is helping others more than she'd ever know. On May 20, 2012, Kathryn nearly drown at a swimming pool in an apartment complex in Topeka.
Wearing a silver heart necklace with the letter "K" inscribed on it, Kathryn's mom Tamara recalls that Sunday, working the races at Heartland Park. "We finished our shift, it was about 4:30. A few minutes later, I get the phone call."
The call came from Tamara's estranged husband, Chad. Kathryn was visiting his apartment at University Heights, 1510 SW Lane, swimming in the pool, playing with a beach ball. He told Tamara he was talking with another man at the pool and realized it was too quiet. He turned to see his daughter at the bottom of the pool, apparently trying to get to the beach ball that had floated to the deep end.
"She doesn't know how to swim," Tamara said. "There was a surveillance video. The police looked at it. It was not negligence or anything like that. What had happened apparently was she bobbed a couple of times and then she went under."
Kathryn's dad jumped in and pulled her out. He did CPR while the other man called 911.
Chad was able to resuscitate Kathryn and she was taken to a hospital with critical injuries. Tamara said Kathryn fought for a few days, "She never woke up, always on the ventilator," she said," "But Wednesday morning was the turnaround point." Kathryn's doctor told Tamara that her daughter's brain had swollen. "With something like that, you just don't wake up."
Saturday, Tamara said Chad brought up the idea of donating Kathryn's organs. "His mom was a recipient of a kidney from her brother," Tamara said. "I didn't hesitate. Didn't like the thought of it at first, but it's something she would want. She was always wanting to help people."
Early Monday, May 28, doctors took Kathryn off the ventilator and she passed away.
"She touched so many lives, even if just for a minute," said Tamara.
"She loved to help people," Tamara said. "She'd give anybody and everybody a hug, even if she didn't know you. She loved people."
Tamara said so far she knew Kathryn's kidneys both went to elderly people in other parts of the country. Her liver was donated to research. Her heart valves and corneas were also donated.
Tamara said it's some relief that Kathryn's death helped others. "Another comfort is that I'll be able to know who she's helped and a little bit more information as time goes on. And I can even write to them, they can write to me, and eventually we can meet," she said. Donors wait one year before they're allowed to contact one another, but Tamara said she thinks she'll want to meet the recipients of Kathryn's organs at that time.
Kathryn's visitation was Wednesday evening. She was laid to rest Thursday morning. Memorial contributions can be made to the Central Church of Christ Youth Group and children's ministries, which Kathryn was actively involved n.