PROVO (ABC4 Utah News) -It’s been nearly a year since Elsie Mahe passed away but the little Lehi girl continues to live on in other children.

Elsie was just 3 years old when she accidentally got a miniblind cord tangled around her neck and suffered a severe brain injury. It was then that her parents, BYU running backs coach Reno Mahe and his wife Sunny, made a decision to turn their worst nightmare into blessings for other parents.

Elsie’s dad recently smiled when he described her as “energetic”.

“Spunky as she was, she was all over the place,” Reno Mahe told ABC4 Utah News. “You come in the house and there was powder all over the house and as much fun as she was, she was a handful. Totally worth it.”

After her accident, Elsie spent a week at Primary Children’s Hospital where her small body fought to survive but her brain had died.

“We were praying that she would have a miracle and that she would be able to come away from this,” Coach Mahe said. “You know you’re hopeful that you can take your little girl home…When the results came back the way it did, we went to the temple to find some kind of peace about her situation…That’s kind of the feeling that we got. It wasn’t supposed to be a miracle *for* her but *from* her in the form of organ donation.”

With the help of the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho, Elsie’s organs saved the lives of five other children.

Deen Vetterli is the founder and CEO of the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho.

“We consider ourselves so fortunate to be able to have partnered with this amazingly inspiring family to give this gift of life,” Vetterli said. “To actually give life to people who are dying.”

In March, Coach Mahe surprised his wife with a billboard the Kidney Foundation put up along Interstate 15 in Lehi.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” Sunny Mahe said at the time. “But it’s wonderful.”

“It’s kind of a fun deal for the kids,” Reno said. “They always wave to her and say hi to her when we drive by.”

ABC4 Utah asked Coach Mahe how it feels to know 5 other kids out there are alive because of Elsie’s gifts.

“Sometimes it’s bittersweet having to lose a kid for that kind of example but knowing what I know and what I believe in, it’s more sweet than bitter,” Coach Mahe said. “I think she served a purpose and a mission for such a young girl.”

Next Wednesday on the one year anniversary of Elsie’s death, the entire Mahe family will mark the occasion while Reno is on a recruiting trip in Hawaii.

For more information on organ donation, visit:

Miracles From Elsie Foundation

Utah Donor Registry

National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho

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