Wellsville woman loses race against time

WELLSVILLE – Prayers of thanks and celebrations filled social media late Sunday night, as word spread that an acceptable liver donor match had been found for Chelsea Lingenfelter, the 21-year-old Wellsville woman who was the subject of a large prayer gathering the previous evening at Wellsville First Christian Church.

She went into surgery shortly after 10 a.m. with a wave of high hopes behind her.

Those same channels delivered a crushing blow to village residents and other well-wishers Monday night, however.

Steve Logston, boyfriend of Chelsea’s mother Joni Lingenfelter, posted a message on Facebook shortly after 9:30 p.m., announcing that Chelsea had died during surgery. It stated: “To all our friends and supporters who have given so much in prayer, gifts and time, we are eternally saddened to let everyone know that today 2-18-13 at 2:43 p.m., Chelsea went to be with all the other angels in Jesus’s heaven. She will forever be the bond for Joni Rodgers Lingenfelter and I here on Earth.”

The message was later posted to Joni Lingenfelter’s page.

“We all knew that this could happen,” said Lew Shepherd, a family friend who created the “A Liver for Chelsea” web page in support of the family. “But we were all just so caught up and happy that she had finally gotten a donor.”

Medical details were unavailable at press time, but Shepherd believes that the 12-month wait was too lengthy for Chelsea in her weakened condition. “This liver came along just a little too late,” he said.

Addressing the long period without any updates following Chelsea’s surgery, Shepherd amended the old saying about no news equaling good news. “No news can also mean that you can’t even speak,” he said.

Laurie Baumgartner, who has been instrumental in the Team Chelsea effort to raise money and awareness for the Lingenfelter family, says that a petition to approve an “Organ Donation Awareness Day” in Chelsea’s honor at Wellsville Council’s meeting this evening will go through as planned.

Baumgartner said that Chelsea’s death puts a spotlight on the lengthy wait that too many families endure and the terrible price that some, like Chelsea’s, must pay. “It just went on too long,” Baumgartner said. “Maybe if we can get it out there, it won’t happen again.”