A Gift of Life

This story is a first-person account by Drew Brown, who was Dyamond’s close friend. 

Dyamond Ott, an 18-year-old DMACC student, was full of life. Dyamond loved to hang out with friends and family, but her passion was dancing. She would find happiness, even on the worst of days. She lived a difficult life but always had a smile on her face.

Abigail Neighbour, 19, a liberal arts major from Ankeny said, “Dyamond was the most amazing person. She was so sweet and could make anyone smile. She was such a great friend.”

As a young girl in pre-school and kindergarten, she had no energy to do anything. She went through testing. They checked for mononucleosis and the test came back negative. In the summer after kindergarten, she went to the University of Iowa Hospitals for additional testing.

Dyamond was diagnosed with a blood disease called Congenital Hemolytic Anemia, which causes her red blood cells to die in less than half the time of a normal child’s, resulting in low energy.

“I pushed myself to go and make it through the day of school. I would get really tired and my days were really long and I never felt good,” Dyamond said in 2009. After being diagnosed with the blood disease, she went through a liver biopsy.

Dyamond was then diagnosed with a liver disease called progressive familial intra hepatic. Dyamond’s disease was very aggressive, and even though she took medicine to slow the process down, her liver continued to deteriorate.

Dyamond was told that her kidneys were functioning at 50 percent. Due to these results, she returned in June 2006 for a kidney biopsy. The biopsy showed kidney disease.

On July 21, 2006, Dyamond was listed on the United Network for Organ Sharing, an Organ Donation wait list. In most cases people will be on the waiting list for many months, even years.

On Sep. 21, 2006, the Ott family got the call from Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. They told her family they had potential organ for Dyamond. Dyamond’s family rushed to the hospital and by 10 p.m. that night Dyamond had a new liver and kidney.

After many months of hard work, Dyamond was back on her feet and involved in school and dance again. Things had finally turned around for her.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation sent Dyamond and her family on a weeklong cruise. Dyamond’s wish was to swim with the dolphins. She was crazy about dolphins.

After she returned home from her vacation she started not feeling well again. She was dizzy and was getting headaches.

Dyamond and mother“Dyamond knew her body extremely well. She knew when something was wrong,” Dyamond’s mother Diane said. Sure enough, something was seriously wrong.

On Jan. 14, 2011, Dyamond was diagnosed with Mebulloblastoma. Mebulloblastoma are tumors that usually form between the brain stem and cerebellum. The cerebellum is where most motor functions originate.

The tumor was inside her cerebellum, which caused her to be dizzy, and lack of control.

“By the time they operated the tumor was the size of a walnut or grape,” Diane said.

Feb 1, 2011, Dyamond had surgery to remove the tumor, but doctors were unable to remove it all.

“It was not the outcome that we were hoping for as far as the tumor goes, but nothing with Dyamond has ever been easy. We are just so thankful that she made it through the surgery as good as she did and with every one’s continued prayers and positive thoughts, she will tackle this as well,” Diane said on Dyamond’s carepage in 2011.

Dyamond was a strong, determined girl. She worked hard to recover from her transplant surgery; this surgery was not going to be any different. By the next day she was up and walking down the halls of the hospital with the assistance from her family.

Dyamond would tell her doctors, “I have to get my walking down, I’m wearing high heels to prom.” It was this determination that got her home Feb. 7, one week after surgery.

During the time she was being tested, surgery, treatments and recovery, Dyamond wasn’t able to attend school. During her treatments and recovery she would work from home to catch up.

She was determined to graduate with her class and walk across the stage with her friends and classmates. Dyamond would spend enormous amounts of time doing homework. Her hard work paid off and she graduated with the rest of her classmates.

Liberal arts major, Lexi Masear, 19 from Ankeny says, “Dyamond was the person you could always talk too. She never complained no matter how bad she felt.”

On May 25, 2011, Dyamond’s MRI of her brain and spinal cord was clean of all tumors. On Aug. 4, 2011, three months after she finished radiation treatments, Dyamond’s MRI was still clean. Dyamond beat the cancer and graduated with her class.

Unfortunately it didn’t end there. Nov. 16, 2011, her MRI came back clean of tumors, but she wasn’t feeling good. She was having many stomach pains.

By November 27, 2011, Dyamond was back in the hospital. After several tests and waiting a few long days for answers, doctors finally discovered what was hurting Dyamond.

Dyamond was diagnosed with a new cancer called Post Transplant

Lymphoproliferative Disorder (PTLD). PTLD is a condition in which a group of
B-cells grow out of control after an organ transplant in patients
with a weakened immune systems.

Dyamond started chemotherapy to start to reduce the cancer cells, but the cancer was too aggressive.

Dyamond passed away the morning of Dec. 11, 2011. Even though Dyamond is not with us anymore, we remember her as the hard working, determined, optimistic and kind-hearted. She appreciated everything she had.

“I got the gift of life,” Dyamond always said.

 

“Dyamond really was a great best friend, and will never be forgotten. She was truly something else,” Masear said.

Dyamond’s story doesn’t end with her death. It lives on through the lives she has touched. Dyamond’s story was put on Facebook in the beautiful teen contest and had over 110,000 likes and plenty of shares. Dyamond’s new fan page on Facebook has fans from twenty different countries.

“My time with her will be cherished forever,” Neighbour says.

“Somebody new is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes,” according to the Iowa Donor Network. The importance of organ donation rises each and every day. The friends and family of Dyamond are greatly affected by organ donation. Organ donation gave them extra time with Dyamond.

When I tell people Dyamond’s story, their view on organ donation changes. They see how one great decision can change or save the life of another.

 

Some say that Dyamond never had a bad day. She had the most positive outlook on life. In every photograph she had a glowing smile. It was impossible to be around her and be in a bad mood. Dyamond had that special glow to her. Everyone that knew Dyamond; including myself, loves to say, “Shine bright like a Dyamond!”

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