Emily Rae Paul

Emily Rae Paul

Donor

Emily was just like any other typical 15-year-old. She loved sports and her true passion was on the diamond, playing baseball. She loved spending time with her family and friends and was well known as a person with a heart the size of Texas. She would light the room up every time she entered it. 

Her mother, Brandy Barlow, shares Emily’s story.  

“On October 1, 2019, I received the worst news a mother could ever hear. My daughter Emily, my son Douglas and another passenger had been in a very bad accident while on their way to school in Bennettsville, SC. Emily had been airlifted to Florence Regional Hospital while Douglas and the other passenger had been transported by ambulance. All three kids were severely injured. Once I got to the hospital, I could see Douglas immediately, but Emily was taken to the OR upon arrival. I was overwhelmed by the fact that two of my kids were injured and fighting for their lives.  

Over the next couple of days, friends and family continued to pray for my children. On October 3, 2019, my world came crashing down around me as we were told, surrounded by family, that my Emily had passed away due to no brain activity and internal injuries. I knew that I still had my Douglas across the hallway, who needed me more than anything. I also knew that I had Emily’s twin brother who also needed his mother during this hard time, but I just wanted to be with my baby Emily. 

Through the next couple of hours, I was introduced to We Are Sharing Hope SC. Their team approached me and explained who they were and the role of their organization. This opportunity wasn’t something I needed to second guess; I immediately agreed to donate any of Emily’s organs to anyone in need.  

Emily saved the lives of three people and enhanced the lives of countless others through organ and tissue donation. We were able to donate Emily’s heart, kidneys, liver, joints and skin. I was told that a lady in Virginia received her heart and left kidney, a lady in South Carolina received her right kidney, and a man from South Carolina received her liver. 

Finally, after two years of patiently waiting to hear from Emily’s heart recipient, I was able to make contact. Her name is Cynthia, and she is from Petersburg, Virgina. We talked and discussed the possibility of meeting each other. She and her family traveled to Florence, SC and I got to meet them. After talking, hugging and crying I asked Ms. Cynthia if I could listen to her heartbeat. She said, “Of course you can.” 

When I heard the beating of Emily’s heart inside of Ms. Cynthia, it instantly brought tears to my eyes. Two years after Emily’s passing, I was able to hear her heart beating again. It was the most beautiful moment I have had in a very long time. Ms. Cynthia and I remain in contact and visit each other often. 

I am getting married in June 2024 and since my father has passed away, Emily’s twin brother Jordan will be walking me down the aisle. Ms. Cynthia will be walking with me as well because I know that if Emily were still here, she would be right there beside me too.”