In the mind of her mother, Eleanor “Ellè” Kelly is not gone.
“There are some spirits that just won’t go away, and hers is one of them,” Cynthia Lowe said Tuesday. The Harlem girl who had just turned 13 was shot in the face Thursday. On Sunday, her mother donated her organs to six other children.
“I know that’s what Ellè would want,” her mother said. “That’s what Ellè would demand.”
Zach Provance, 14, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting, which the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office ruled accidental.
It was the fatal shooting of another Harlem girl, 14-year-old Alana May Calahan, more than a year ago that prompted Ellè to talk to her mother about organ donation.
“She said that if anything ever happened she would want someone else to live on, because there would be no reason burying something that another child could use,” Lowe said. “It was just something she cared a lot about. It was something she believed in.”
Ellè was a bright, outgoing girl who loved art and music and loved to play the drums, her mother said. She loved Japanese anime and Japanese culture and was learning to speak the language.
“She was bound and determined to move to Japan and become a graphic designer,” her mother said. “She just loved the culture.”
She was the youngest of triplets and was close with her brothers, Daniel and Jarrod, Lowe said. They could often be found playing video games or running around with friends, she said. She was girlish enough to have My Little Pony stuff in her bedroom but grown-up enough to decide to cut her own hair and dye it without mom’s permission.
“She’s just now starting to blossom and become a young lady,” her mother said.
Lowe was at work Thursday at Hill Drug Co. in Augusta when she got the call “telling me that my daughter had been shot in the head,” she said, choking back a sob, “and they were airlifting her.”
At Medical College of Georgia Children’s Medical Center, she was told her daughter was alive, but the brain damage was extensive.
“There was no surgery they could do to help her because her brain was swelling so fast,” Lowe said. There were more tests and more scans as the hours passed.
“Every time they did a scan, that would give me hope that she would wake up,” Lowe said as tears welled in her eyes. “But that wasn’t meant to be.”
She told the doctors her daughter wanted to be an organ donor, and they quickly found matches for her lungs, liver and pancreas. Her kidneys went to two different children, but it was a struggle to find a good match for the heart. A recipient was finally located over the weekend, and the surgery performed Sunday morning.
It is some comfort to Lowe to know those organs might be saving a child’s life and relieving the worst fears of another parent.
“I’m hoping and praying it does, especially them being children,” she said. “They still have a whole life ahead of them. And I feel like part of her is going to continue to live.”