Brandon Teen Honored as Hero

BRANDON, S.D.-An emotional day of learning for students at Brandon Valley High School. The parents of a student who lost her life to a rare brain disease were honored at halftime of a basketball game and during a student assembly. That’s because they followed their daughter’s wishes to become an organ donor.

Brandon Valley High School is honoring one of their own. 14-year-old Hannah Havermann was a freshman. In 2017 she passed away suddenly from a cyst in her brain caused by a rare disease called Obstructive Hydrocephalus.

“Were bringing everyone together to go ‘Yes Hannah’s death was a tragedy,’ but through tragedy some really good things came out of it and we can still celebrate Hannah for that,” said Mark Schlekeway, Brandon Valley Vice Principal.

Hannah is a hero. She’s an organ donor who helped save 8 lives, including 17-year-old Hollie Burford who received her heart.

“[Hannah] was very giving, loving,” said her mom, Trudie Havermann.

Since the age of 12, Hannah had been vocal about being a donor.

“We knew right there and then that she was a special person. She’s always cared about what’s going on,” said Hannah’s dad, Joseph Havermann.

So her parents honored her wishes.

“It’s was a way to let her legacy live on,” said Joseph.

Hannah’s heart continues to beat within Hollie. It was a perfect match in more ways than one.

“And it’s funny because right when I met Hollie, I was like ‘oh my gosh she acts just like Hannah,’ so this was very easy,” said Joseph.

Now the Havermanns have become close with Hollie and her mom, Pam.

“We knew right away we were going to fall in love with these people. It’s not friends, it’s family,” said Joseph.

During the school assembly students heard the families story and learned the importance of becoming a donor on their license.  

Hannah’s family and Hollie took a photo with what would have been Hannah’s sophomore class and got to meet Hannah’s friends.

Hollie and her mom are both grateful for Hannah’s choice to become a donor.

“My mother would be experiencing the same pain that Trudie and Joseph went through if Hannah wasn’t a donor,” said Hollie.

“Their decision saved my daughter, so we’re blessed to be given a part of Hannah and a part of them, so my daughter can live,” said Pam, Hollie’s mom.

They all hope their story inspires others.

Hannah will continue to live on as a hero at Avera McKennan. Her photo will be placed up on the wall of heroes with a short summary of her story.


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