Chicago Fire

‘I Think It's Beautiful:' After Mom and 3 Kids Die in Fire, Organ Donations Allow at Least 8 Organ Transplants

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Summer Day-Stewart, who died following a house fire earlier this week, is being remembered by her best friend of more than 20 years as a ray of light, a caring person and an amazing mother who would do anything for her children. NBC 5’s Vi Nguyen reports.

In the last hours of her life, Summer Day-Stewart’s family held on to one consolation.

Plans were made to donate her organs and those of her three young children who died in a house fire in Montclare last week. Doctors said at least eight life-saving transplants would be performed.

“I think it’s beautiful,” her sister Sarah Day said Tuesday. “I think Summer would have been really happy about it.

“She was always trying to help people and be there for people,” Sarah added. “She would have done anything for anybody she loved.”

Day-Stewart, 36, and her children — 9-year-old Autumn, 7-year-old Ezra and 2-year-old Emory — suffered smoke inhalation when fire broke out in their home in the 2500 block of North Rutherford Avenue on March 7.

Day-Stewart’s husband Walter Stewart, a Chicago firefighter, heard his home’s address over his station’s alert system and rushed to the block and gave his wife CPR.

But fire officials said her injuries and those of their children were too severe. Ezra died the following day, his mother last Thursday and the other two children on Friday.

“We were in the hospital the whole time,” Sarah said. “Usually, when there’s a tragedy, they’re not able to donate any organs.

“But in this case, the smoke inhalation or the carbon monoxide got them first,” she said. “So they were on life support but not alive. So they had a lot of organs that could be donated. They told me the pediatric organs are really hard to come by.

“I think she would have liked knowing that was her final act, saving lives,” Sarah said.

Day-Stewart and her sister grew up in California but lived all over and always had some family in Chicago. For Day-Stewart, being a mother was everything.

“She loved her babies,” her sister-in-law Amber Day said.

Autumn was like a “little mini Summer,” free-spirited just like her, according to Sarah. “You’ll never meet a child like Autumn.”

Ezra, the middle child, had been diagnosed with autism and did not speak. But he always had a smile on his face, his relatives said.

“She (Day-Stewart) spent every moment of every day making sure he had everything he needed to thrive and succeed,” Amber said.

Emory, the youngest, was just a toddler but already loved fire trucks and wanted to be just like his father, who has been with the Chicago Fire Department for nearly three years.

Day-Stewart had close friends across the country, and memorials to the family are in the works in Chicago, Oregon and California. Day-Stewart also loved music — from Tupac to Ella Fitzgerald — and loved playing guitar.

Sarah and her sister lived a half-country apart but remained close.

“She was a good person,” Sarah said. “She lived up to her name, she radiated sunlight everywhere she went.

“You don’t think about how quickly this can happen,” she added. Tell people that you love them… Tell them every chance you get.”

The Chicago firefighters union is collecting donations for the family as well.

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