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16-Year-Old’s Death Becomes a Life-Changing Gift

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PLATTE, S.D.) -- Andrea Cleveland was leaving her boyfriend’s home just south of Platte, S.D., last November when her car hit loose gravel and rolled.

She died from the injuries she sustained in the crash.

Just 16, Andrea was a new driver who had decided to become an organ donor when she got her driver’s license. Her decision likely saved the lives of several others.

This week, 2 1/2-year-old Keegan Johnson of Fridley, Minn., and 30-year-old Meleah Richter, of Northfield, Minn., met Andrea’s family. Keegan was the recipient of Andrea’s liver; Richter received her lungs. Andrea also donated her pancreas, kidneys, eyes, heart valves and other tissues.

“Of course you can tell that she was a very caring person by her being a donator,” said her mother, Marlene Cleveland, in an interview with ABC Minneapolis affiliate KSTP. “It was her idea, it was her choice.”

It was only after Andrea was declared brain dead, and hospital personnel noted that the teen’s license indicated that she was an organ donor, that her parents learned of their daughter’s special generosity.

Andrea’s friends told her parents she was proud of her decision.

“She came to school first thing, and was like ‘I got my driver’s license,’ and ‘I’m a donor, I’m a donor,’” friends told her father, Jeff Cleveland. ” She made a big deal out of it that she was a donor.”

In Richter’s eyes, Andrea lives on, “She didn’t deserve to go but she’s an angel now, she’s my angel, she’s Keegan’s angel, she’s everybody’s.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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