Chattanooga native passes away from sleep apnea, leaving life-saving legacy

Allison Bell donates organs after death. (Image: Amy Griffith)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WTVC) — A Chattanooga woman spent her career giving life to others. Now, in death, she continues to do so.

Allison Bell was a 33-year-old hospice nurse who passed away suddenly last week, in Charleston, North Carolina.

Her family said making others feel peace and comfort was her passion.

It's peace her family says they feel, knowing parts of her are going to save lives.

“The chance to help others... that was always important for her." Allison Bell didn't know she suffered from sleep apnea and on August 22nd, her husband Joe didn't know that was the last night he'd have with her.

“We tried to wake her up and she just wasn't responsive,” said Joe.

“You don't really know what brain dead looks like until you see it right in front of your face and you realize it's not sedation, it's them truly not being able to wake up,” said Allison’s younger sister, Amy Griffith.

Amy reflected on the type of person Allison was, just moments before making the funeral arrangements.

“Allison was the life of the party. She could walk into the room and make anybody smile, laugh, she was always cracking jokes,” said Amy.

That life of the party was walked down the hospital hallway by doctors and nurses because five of her organs are going to help others.

Allison made sure that little red heart was on her driver’s license - and she made sure it was on Joe's, too.

“I said, 'What should I do?' and she said, 'Oh you gotta check the box to be an organ donor,' and I knew how much it meant to her,” said Joe.

Amy said once Allison's organs were removed, they'll get to the recipient in 30 days.

“We'll actually get to know who those people are, what their hobbies were, and we get to hopefully have a relationship with them in the future. I'm pumped,” said Amy.

Amy said her sister fulfilled all she ever wanted to do with her life, and just as others remember her legacy, so do her two sons Corbin and Joey.

“He could see the distress on my face and he looked at me and he said, 'Dad, she won the battle. She's in heaven,'” Joe said 10-year-old Joey understood what his mother was leaving behind.

“She's giving people opportunities that don't happen every day, and I know she’s proud of that,” said Amy.

Allison's mother spoke with us after meeting with Joe and Amy. She said as a mother, the idea of her daughter not being whole was hard to understand, but after realizing she was helping save the lives of 5 people, she knew it was the right thing.

Her family members said they cannot wait to meet some of the people that will receive her organs.

The one thing they all want to do, is hug whoever they might be.

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