A young teacher who died in an accident on her way home from school before starting her first school job has saved up to eight lives after his family agreed to keep her alive to have her organs transplanted.
Beca Richards, 23, had traveled to primary school in Narberth, Pembrokeshire before the start of a new school year – her first as a teacher – to set up her classroom on 20 August last year.
She had only recently obtained her teaching certificate, but when she returned home, her Opel Corsa was involved in a head-on crash with a cement truck and she died in hospital.
After the crash, her family was proud that Beca, as a donor, would still be able to “give others a better life as her last gift.”
Beca’s mother Eleri James and two brothers Llion, 31, and Tegid, 28, have now revealed that her organs have saved the lives of strangers.
This includes a kidney donated to a young woman in her 20s and her pancreas and other kidneys to a 42-year-old mother.
Beca Richards, 23, had just graduated from college when she died in a head-on crash with a cement truck last August
Beca (pictured with mom Eleri) was on her way home after spending the day setting up her new classroom for the start of the school year
Beca in the picture with mother Eleri and brothers Llion and Tegid. The family has revealed that her organs have saved the lives of strangers
Eleri, 42, added: “She was setting up her classroom and at the end of that day the headmistress told her: ‘Your classroom is perfect, you don’t have to come back before the beginning of September.’
“But Beca who is Beca didn’t realize that schools don’t provide writing materials for students and that it was up to the parents to provide them.
“Beca was the perfectionist and was clearly concerned about this and went to The Range in the morning to pick up 26 pencils, 26 rubbers and 26 jars.”
The mother, a registered nurse, said she told her daughter to wait until the start of the trimester to bring in the equipment.
But Beca replied, ‘What if one of the children forgets his or her pencil case the first morning? They would be devastated and I don’t want that.’
Eleri also remembered the last time she spoke to her daughter before the fatal crash.
She said Beca called her from school at 4:30 PM to say she was about to leave, but added that she had a bad headache after not eating or drinking anything all day. Her mother told her to drink some water before she left.
Eleri continued, “Her last act of kindness that day was to put a pencil and eraser on each student’s chair.”
An inquest earlier learned Beca’s car came to a stop on a grassy berm, but she had suffered serious head injuries in the collision.
Pembrokeshire coroner Paul Bennett then recorded a conclusion of traumatic injuries sustained from a road accident.
Beca donated a kidney to a young woman in her 20s and her pancreas and other kidneys to a 42-year-old mother
Beca had bought equipment for all her first year students for her first school period as a teacher
After her death, Beca’s family is made aware of the importance of organ donation.
Beca’s heart has not only donated organs to the mother and the young woman, but is also stored to help up to four people, as both the valves and the tissue itself can be used.
Eleri said: ‘My sons and my only wish was that a young person could be saved and that young children – because Beca lived to help young children – could get their mother back through her organs.
“As a family, we had to make a lot of decisions. As a nurse, I have been to many families when they had to make difficult decisions before, but this was all about my daughter.
“I’ve helped thousands and thousands of patients over the years, but I couldn’t make my daughter better. That’s the hardest thing a mother or nurse can go through.’
She added: “Eleri added: “She was an absolute delight to have a daughter and my best friend. I thrive on having her for 23 years of my life.
“The fact that Beca was so caring in life, she was so caring after life. And to me, that’s the greatest gift anyone can give.’