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Young mother killed in northeast Indy crash gives gift of life to others

Kiana, a 28-year-old mother of four young children ages 8 months through 8 years, was involved in a chain-reaction crash last Thursday.

INDIANAPOLIS — A chain-reaction crash last week on the northeast side of Indianapolis damaged eight different vehicles and 13News has learned one of the drivers, a mother of four, has since died from her injuries.

But we also learned from Kiana Burns' family that even in tragedy, this young mother is giving back to others.

Denise Gatling never went a day without talking to her daughter – often not more than an hour.

"She called me 50 times a day," Gatling said. "We were close."

But now, she can only hear Kiana through a heartbeat recorded inside a teddy bear she received from Methodist Hospital.

Credit: Denise Gatling

It's a memento of the gift of life Kiana shared when her own was cut short.

"It fills my heart with...solace. It just gives me peace," Gatling said.

Kiana, a 28-year-old mother of four young children ages 8 months through 8 years, was involved in a chain-reaction crash last Thursday at 52nd Street and Keystone Avenue.

"She was in a double turn lane and she was the third car at the stoplight in line," Gatling said. "This woman comes barreling up behind her, cops told me going at least 55. And, out of 8 cars, Kiana was the only injury. It took them two hours to cut her out of the car is what the detective told me."

The crash is still under investigation by IMPD.

Toxicology results are pending on the female driver who caused the chain-reaction crash and hit Kiana's car first.

"Not only did she (Kiana) save people with her organs, she saved those other people in those cars because she took the hit for everybody," Gatling said.

Credit: Denise Gatling

Denise says Kiana spent her life giving to others: her children, her friends, even strangers.

"Oh yeah, she was that girl. She didn't have anything, but what she did have, she would give it," Gatling said.

So it makes sense, that when she didn't survive that crash, Kiana gave again: a heart, a lung, her liver and both kidneys.

Methodist Hospital staff gave Kiana's mom a "hero" medal and paid tribute to the gift with an honor walk prior to the surgery to harvest her organs.

"The whole hallway was lined with, it had to be 50 doctors, nurses," Gatling said. "This is the medal they gave me. It says, 'this medal was created to show the deepest gratitude to Kiana for her selfless gifts. She's a true hero'."

Credit: WTHR
Denise Gatling holds up a medal marking her daughter Kiana's gift of life by donating her organs.

Gatling is now caring for several of her daughter's young children.

She also eventually wants to meet at least one of the people who received her daughter's organs.

"Yes! Yes! I want to listen to my daughter's heartbeat."

A mom lost in grief, finding comfort in the gift of life.

"That's what is getting me through this," she said. "I just keep remembering that gift because it's just too hard."

Click here for more on how to help Kiana's family.

Click here to become an organ donor.

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