Family of Hawaii teenager heals by meeting her organ donor recipient

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The legacy of a life.

Samantha Lim had a promising life in front of her. She was just a freshman at Iolani School working her way onto the headmaster’s list when tragedy struck in 2019. Now her parents are getting to meet a part of her once again.

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Lim packed her life full of the things she loved. She was a tenacious midfielder in soccer and a violinist since the age of three.

“Samantha was very talented in a lot of things,” Samantha’s father Steve said. “With sports, and she was a great student, and she worked really hard to make her high school’s orchestra team. She had her first big performance.”

That performance in November of 2019 ended in the blink of an eye.

“During the performance with a packed crowd, a very hot building that there was a very hot day. She basically collapsed in the middle of a performance,” Steve said.

Samantha suffered from a rare condition. Her arteries became entangled in her brain. It is called a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

Steve agonizes looking back but said there were no warning signs that showed what was coming.

“Even though she didn’t suffer much, at least the only thing that we regret is we didn’t get to say goodbye in person,” Steve said.

On Saturday, Sept. 4, Steve and Samantha’s mom Jaemi dug for the courage to meet with the recipient of her right kidney for the first time at Legacy of Life Hawaii.

Cynthia Duong was 40 at the time and on dialysis, in need of a kidney transplant.

“I feel so nervous, and I’m very grateful that their family made a very hard decision to donate all those organs,” Duong said.

Jaemi said it has been hard to be strong and was brought to tears instantly meeting Cynthia.

“To see Samantha in her once again. It was a joy. So, I was crying, I was lonely and sad that I miss her, but also joy,” Jaemi said.

The Lim ohana said it was an easy family decision between them and Samantha’s two sisters. Samantha also donated her left kidney, liver and lungs. She ended up saving four people in need.

“We knew giving her organs to people in need to help, that’s what she wanted,” Jaemi said to Cynthia. “So, like I said, it was an easy decision to see you. To see you, healthy and keeping you healthy, is such a blessing.”

The Lims called Samantha their Samshine. Now, her light shines bright in the lives of those she saved. Steve says he can not wait to see her again.

“She’ll always have that kind of that shine in our heart, and we’ll never get over it. But with meeting just in our memory in our, in our legacy makes life a little bit more bearable.”

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For more information visit https://legacyoflifehawaii.org/

Correction: A previous version of this story had the medical condition incorrect. The story has been updated.

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