A young road crash victim is leaving behind one last gift before her family say their final goodbyes to her.

At just 16, Hollie Snell felt passionately about organ donation and had shared with her whānau her decision to donate if it meant she could help someone else.

Sadly, that time has nearly arrived. The Te Puke teenager was involved in a two-car fatal crash at Okere Falls last Sunday. An occupant of the other car died and Hollie was left with head injuries she would not survive.

Her family has spent the week preparing to donate her organs while she has been on life support in Waikato Hospital.


STORY UPDATE: 'Our prayers have been answered': Te Puke crash victim Hollie Snell expected to make full recovery

Her older sister, Larnie Woodward, said Hollie believed organ donation would create a miracle for a whānau in need and, in an attempt to respect her wishes, her whānau and doctors had been doing everything they could to ensure her organs were well preserved.

"Death is something we have discussed many times in our immediate whānau and we have all made it clear that any of us would donate organs should we be in a position to do so."

Woodward said being able to donate Hollie's organs was helping the family get through a difficult time.

"In some ways it helps to know that we have provided peace and opportunity to someone else during our time of tragedy and devastation and this is comforting,'' she said.

"It is important to our family that our loss can be someone else's gain and we take peace from knowing lives will potentially be saved from making such a selfless yet easy decision."

Larnie Woodward with Hollie Snell. Photo / Supplied
Larnie Woodward with Hollie Snell. Photo / Supplied

It's been nearly a week since Hollie's parents, Dale and David Snell, received a call no parents want to hear.

Their precious Hollie had been involved in a crash, airlifted to Waikato Hospital and admitted to intensive care.


She was placed in an induced coma because of brain swelling which caused inter-cranial pressure.

The family decided against surgery because of the high risk of permanent brain damage.

On Tuesday, doctors told Hollie's whānau they believed a large part of Hollie's brain had died.

But doctors knew there was still blood flow to her brain and kept Hollie on life support in an attempt to preserve her ability to donate organs.

The whānau learnt that if after some time her brain was still alive the life support would be stopped and the procedure around donating organs would change accordingly.

Hollie donating her organs was true to her caring and selfless character, her sister said, as she was always putting the needs of others ahead of her own.

"Hollie would also be incredibly happy to see someone live on because of her decision to donate her organs that she no longer needs. She would say 'That's so cool'.

"More than words, her smile would tell us how proud she is."

Describing her as generous, caring and having a smile that "lights up every room'', Woodward remembered Hollie as having the ''biggest heart ever imagined''.

The community-oriented teen, who had just finished Year 12, was actively involved in community events, volunteered at The Toy Library and loved spending her spare time with her mother at Plunket.

Her whānau believed Hollie would pursue a career in early childhood because of the huge place she had in her heart for children, but Hollie had other plans.

"She wanted to commit to helping others who were less fortunate than her and honestly she just wanted to take care of all the children and babies in the world that needed caring for.

"She is such a selfless person and she would have excelled in a role such as social work that drove her compassionate and kind-hearted soul," Woodward said.

Family-centred, Hollie has an unbreakable bond with her older sister and her younger sister, Samantha, and leaves behind a niece and nephew she referred to as her babies. She also leaves behind her partner of five years.

Hollie and Keani Walters were believed to be
Hollie and Keani Walters were believed to be "soul-mates". Photo / Supplied

Keani Walters met Hollie at intermediate when she was 12 and Woodward said they had stood by each other's side since.

"We truly believe Hollie and Keani were soulmates and we know for a fact that Hollie is the love of his life. He has shown commitment to not only Hollie but our whole whānau and he has been there for us in times of need,'' she said.

"Our hearts break for him and we will stand by his side now and forever to help him heal with us."

Born and raised in Te Puke, Hollie has left a large hole in the community and the support from locals has been ongoing for the whānau.

A Givealittle page was set up shortly after news of the crash spread and was initially to provide financial support for Hollie's whānau as they juggled transport, accommodation and food costs while supporting Hollie.

"The aroha and awhi [support] we have received from the Te Puke community has been overwhelmingly outstanding to say the least.

"The wider community and people we don't even know have all helped us in many different ways. We can't say thank you enough," Woodward said.

More than $11,000 has been raised which will now also go towards the cost of Hollie's tangi, for which a date has yet to be set.

Hollie's sister said her
Hollie's sister said her "smile lights up every room she enters". Photo / Supplied

Woodward said the whānau felt honoured, privileged and humbled to have received the support.

"We are absolutely mind blown by how many donations we have received in this short period of time. There's no way to describe how much these donations mean to our family but please know every single cent has been, and will be, so, so helpful in getting us through this extremely heartbreaking time. From the bottom of our broken hearts we can't say thanks enough."

Family friend and Givealittle organiser Donna Tuck said she was inundated with people wanting to help and setting up the page was the easiest solution.

Tuck described the family as the most honest, caring and giving people which was why the community wanted to give back.

"They are just the sort of people that if you need something they would give it to you,'' she said.

"Anybody that had ever met them, even if you had only met them once has felt like they just want to do something," Tuck said.

Tuck and the whānau wanted to acknowledge the staff at Waikato DHB.

Hollie's sister said the nurses and doctors ''have shown the utmost respect and cared for Hollie in the most comforting and dignified way possible''.

"We have been thoroughly supported through our journey by the staff here and we admire all their hard work and dedication," Woodward said.

The family shared their thoughts and condolences with the other whānau who lost a loved one in the crash.

"Our deepest sympathies are with them at this difficult time," Woodward said.

Hollie's whānau are encouraging others to be organ donors to help save lives as they prepare to say their goodbyes.

"Her loss has impacted on our whānau and community more than one could ever imagine possible and there is a gaping huge hole in our lives and in our hearts. She will be missed dearly but forever remembered for her gorgeous character and outstanding qualities."

The cause of the crash is not yet known. Police say the investigation is ongoing.

Organ donation

• People of all ages can be considered for organ donation.
•Very few medical conditions will prevent a person from being able to donate.
• In New Zealand you can choose to donate your heart, lungs, pancreas, liver and kidneys.
•Tissue like heart valves and skin can also be donated.
•One donor can transform the lives of up to 10 recipients.
• Organ donation is only possible when a person is on a ventilator (breathing machine) in an intensive care unit, usually with severe brain damage.
• Less than 1 per cent of deaths happen this way.
• People who die in hospital, in a hospice or at home can be considered for tissue donation up to 48 hours following death.
• You can make your wishes to become an organ and tissue donor known by ticking DONOR in question 4C on your driver licence application or renewal form.
• If you would like to be a donor, tell your family which organs and tissues you are willing to donate.