Friends and family of Melissa Hernandez say she was quiet yet determined. Last week, she died unexpectedly in a car crash, but the high school senior decided a couple of years ago to donate her organs and tissue.
Melissa's mother, Cathy, said her daughter was mature beyond her years.
"They called the same night she had passed on. It was hard to think about it, but I got to thinking she's going to be living on and helping other people, and that makes me happier," Cathy said.
Hernandez's family said her donations are helping about 50 people.
"We got a letter already stating that two people are able to see now because she was a donor," Cathy said.
Melissa had a 6-month-old daughter, Lindsey Marie, who Cathy and the child's father now care for.
Melissa was recently given a posthumous graduation. Her mother said the school even made sure the family had her senior cap and gown.
"She promised she was going to graduate even after getting pregnant and going to school, and she graduated and that makes me very proud," Cathy said.
Cathy said when her grandaughter gets older, she will tell her how the donations honored Melissa's memory.
Anyone interested in donating money to a memorial fund for Hernandez can send it to:
Saint Timothy's Episcopal Church Melissa Hernandez Memorial Fund 1207 Cambridge Road Wilson, N.C. 27893 Attn: Father Phil Byrum