Eleven-year-old Hannah Walker of Prescott, the Eastern Ontario town in Canada, died at the Toronto Sick Kids hospital, hours before a life-saving heart transplant. A wave of sadness gripped the town as the little girl's ordeal came to a sudden close yesterday.
The entire town of Prescott and its neighborhood pitched in to raise money in a show of solidarity for this bubbly sixth grader ever since she suddenly fell ill last month. Many took the time to write inspirational messages for Hannah on more than 400 paper hearts collected for her.
"Everyone's heart is going to be broken today," said Sheila Boardman, who led the South Grenville Rangers Bantam B hockey team in raising $11,500 in its "Hearts for Hannah" campaign. "We're all trying to understand this loss," she sobbed in the lobby of Independent Grocer where news of the tragedy reached her.
Hannah's brother Daniel is a member on the Bantam B house league team. Rob Walker, the little girl's father, is the Rangers' assistant coach. Shelley Saunders, Hannah's mother and a single parent, lost her job in December, weeks before Hannah got sick. Shelley Saunders and Walker were at Hannah's side when she died yesterday.
Hannah developed some complications and died before she could accept the donor heart that had arrived for her the previous night and could have saved her life. The donor's heart however was used to save the life of another child.
"We were planning the biggest homecoming the town has ever seen," said Mayor Suzanne Dodge, who traveled to Hannah's bedside last week. "Instead, we have to plan a funeral," she said.