Wake Forest teen 'will live on' through organ donations, family of Paige Merical says

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) -- Paige Merical, a Wake Forest High School student who got caught in a rip current while swimming in Emerald Isle while on spring break, will soon be taken off life support.

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On Thursday morning, Meredith Jarrell, Paige's cousin, posted to Facebook saying the 17-year-old had been "called to Heaven far sooner than we ever thought possible."

Jarrell told ABC11 the teen will undergo two brain studies to confirm her brain activity. One of which was performed Thursday morning.

However, Jarrell said there is no chance of recovery.

"They tried everything," she said. "No one ever gave up."

On Thursday afternoon, the family released a statement confirming that Paige would not survive but would help save other lives because she is an organ donor.

"While this is not the outcome that any of us prayed for, we hope that the decision Paige made to be an organ donor will not only allow her to save multiple lives but bring awareness to pediatric organ donation nationwide. What an honor it is for us, her family, to know she will be living on in others, giving them the gift of life," the family said in part.

Early Thursday, John Merical, Paige's father, posted to his Facebook page saying her brain was too "severely damaged" for her to live on.

"We get to love on my baby for the next few days, with organ donation Saturday. Paige was a big supporter of this. Please consider being a donor. By next week Paige will live on thru others."



Paige was with Ian Lewis, 18, when the incident occurred.

Lewis' body was recovered around 3:30 a.m. Monday.

A vigil was held for both teens Tuesday.

FULL STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILY OF PAIGE MERICAL

We would like to express our most sincere gratitude to the local Wake Forest and Emerald Isle communities, the State of North Carolina and those worldwide for their prayers, concern, donations and well wishes for Paige. Since this tragedy occurred at Emerald Isle on Friday, April 19, we have been inundated with your love and prayers that have given us hope and sustained us during our time of grief.

From the first responders on scene to the Coast Guard and the medical staff at Carteret Health Care, we appreciate your valiant efforts in rescuing Paige from the rough waters and resuscitating her. Your tireless search for Ian Lewis to bring him home to his family means more than you could know.

We would like to thank the staff, providers and nurses in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina. They have been a constant source of support and information, fielding all of our questions as we navigated this nightmare for the last week. The compassion and love they showed Paige, as a patient, is something we will never forget and for which we will be forever grateful.

While this is not the outcome that any of us prayed for, we hope that the decision Paige made to be an organ donor will not only allow her to save multiple lives but bring awareness to pediatric organ donation nationwide. What an honor it is for us, her family, to know she will be living on in others, giving them the gift of life. We would encourage others to register to become an organ donor to support the gift of life, just as Paige did. Valuable information can be found at carolinadonorservices.org/ and at organdonor.gov.

It is also important to us to remind people about the importance of water safety and the dangers of rip currents. The beach is a joyous place for so many but it can quickly become dangerous. We encourage families to educate themselves on the dangers of rip currents. Oceanservice.noaa.gov is a great resource.

READ MORE: Tips to surviving a rip current

In lieu of flowers, we ask that those interested would please consider donating to Prayers for Paige Go Fund Me Account and the Live for Ian Go Fund Me Account, which will help to support both our family and Ian's during this difficult time.

There will be a private flag-raising ceremony to honor Paige's life and her generous gift of organ and tissue donation on Friday, April 26th at 7:30 p.m. at Vidant Medical Center, which will begin in the chapel, as well as a tower lighting in her honor outside the hospital. This is for Paige's immediate family and friends and will not be open to the media or public.

Arrangements for Paige's memorial service are pending at this time.

Thank you!
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