MUNCIE -- Kelsey Koch's dream to help others through medicine is finally a reality.
It was Kelsey's wish that after her death her body be donated to National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md., the hospital where she spent so much time as doctors fought against the clock -- ultimately unsuccessfully -- to cure her of a rare genetic condition known as Dock 8 Disease.
Kelsey died Wednesday. A memorial will be at 11 a.m. Feb. 12 in the main sanctuary at Union Chapel Ministries.
Even in death, however, Kelsey's generosity toward others shines through. Not only did Kelsey struggle with Dock 8 Disease throughout her life, her younger sister Karly also has the condition. Dock 8 Disease is so rare only a handful of people have it.
"Kelsey was an inspiration," her mother, Tammy, said. "Kelsey did think of others before herself. She certainly cared about people. One of her missions was to save the world."
She may yet do that. Now doctors have the opportunity to learn more about the condition and hopefully find a cure.
No one is surprised by Kelsey's generosity. When others would complain or become selfish, Kelsey had a smile and kind words. She didn't dwell on her troubles, instead looking for joy in even the smallest thing, and she encouraged others to do the same.
Family friend and dance instructor Michelle Jones remembers how Kelsey sent her a kind message through Facebook around Thanksgiving although Kelsey was ill and in the hospital.
"Just the little things that she did to let people know how much she loved them and cared for them," Jones said.
That was typical Kelsey, family and friends say.
Her desire to go into medicine stemmed not only from her love of science, but from first-hand knowledge of being a patient. She had compassion for those with health issues and wanted to help them, family friend Rita Moore said.
Kelsey's love for others was rooted in her faith in Jesus Christ and her family. One of six children of Tracy and Tammy, Kelsey was taught that when this life ends, a newer, better one will begin in heaven. She never faltered from that belief.
"They're saying good-bye to Kelsey is only temporary, and they know they're going to see her again and celebrate her healing," family friend Carmel Read said.
Before one of her most recent surgeries, Kelsey had rare moment of fear. It was then Tammy told her the only options were to come back to her mom or go to Jesus.
"So either way you're going to win," Tammy told her. "She said, 'Yeah, you're right. I want to be with Jesus.' That makes it easier. I gave her those two choices. She didn't even want to come back to me. She wanted to go back with Jesus ... She went very peacefully. (When) she left us, we were singing and it was very peaceful. We knew she was ready because she had already made that choice on Monday."