3-year-old dies following house fire in Indiana; family donates organs to save others
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE/Gray News) – A 3-year-old girl died days after she was trapped in a house fire in Indiana last week.
Officials said Ophelia Young was trapped in the home during the fire Friday. She was upstairs when the fire broke out, hiding because she was scared.
Three days later, on Monday, Ophelia died at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, according to the Marion County Coroner.
Ophelia’s family describes the little girl as vibrant, with a personality that was fun-loving, charismatic and silly. Her grandfather Ronald Young said the family is hurting right now, but they’re glad Ophelia is out of pain.
“Words can’t explain how the family’s feeling. She’s in God’s arms now, and we know she’s not in no pain,” Young said.
The house that caught fire was not Ophelia’s home. The homeowner, Zachary Ford, said he and his wife were babysitting Ophelia, his cousin’s daughter.
According to a release from the Evansville Fire Department, they believe the cause of the fire was from a child playing with a lighter in the home.
Ford said it was his son who was playing with a lighter. Ford was asleep at the time. There were seven people in the house total, including Ford, and he said he quickly realized that Ophelia was the only one not accounted for when the rest made it outside.
Ford said he tried to run back upstairs to save her, but the smoke was too thick.
“I tried. I tried multiple times. I was, like, I kept running back up there. I soaked my shirt and covered my mouth, but the smoke was still too thick,” Ford told WFIE. “I was so, I was scared… I was more worried about the little girl that was up there. That was the only thing that was on my mind.”
Young said there is a silver lining amongst the pain – Ophelia’s parents decided to donate their daughter’s organs to save the lives of other children.
“As tragic as it is, they all chose to give another child a chance to grow up and have a childhood and grow up to be an adult,” Young said.
The important decision to make Ophelia an organ donor is not one the family took lightly, but they knew what impact it could have for other families in need.
“It’s a very great feeling to know, and I know it’s hard, and I’m sure every time I walk down the street and go into Walmart and see a child, that thought’s always going to be in your mind – is that the one that she touched? Did she change that life?” Young said.
He said the process is quick, as the family is already working to match Ophelia with potential recipients.
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