Debbie Croft: Mariposa mourns loss of Amber Thorson

September 7, 2012 


In this column on Feb. 25, I wrote about Amber Thorson, a Mariposa resident and California State University, Sacramento, student, who was awaiting her fourth liver transplant.

After the transplant, I wrote a brief update stating that she was regaining strength and looking forward to getting well and coming home.

Her mom Rita and I are good friends and have kept in touch through the long ordeal. I had planned to write another update more than once, but Amber's condition did not get better. Each time Rita and I planned to write something, Amber would have another setback.

I traveled with friends two weeks ago to visit Amber and Rita. It was obvious this young woman's life was slipping away.

The following is a statement prepared for the Sun-Star and the Mariposa online newspaper, the Sierra Sun Times:

Amber Thorson passed away on Saturday, Aug. 25, at 11:50 a.m. at the UCLA Medical Center, where she had resided since the middle of January 2012.

She received a new liver, the fourth one in her 25 years, on March 25. Surgery to replace a kidney took place the following day. Both the kidney and liver worked fine for a week or two, but then she began experiencing complications. These were the result of multiple surgeries, the presence of scar tissue, a hole in the intestine, and a blockage somewhere within the body's organs.

She was moved to ICU on May 10 and remained there for the last 3½ months of her life.

On late Thursday night, August 23, hospital staff called Rita, who has been living in an apartment near the hospital all this time. Amber's blood pressure had been low all week and was getting lower. She was put on medication to raise it, which worked temporarily. Later, there was fluid around her heart sac, and emergency surgery was performed. Her condition stabilized through the following morning.

Her father, Jeff, drove to L.A. on Friday. That afternoon, her health started deteriorating, and the family knew she would not make it. Amber's sister, Erica, arrived from San Francisco that night.

On Saturday, she suffered organ failure and gave up the fight, with her family at her bedside. Amber's short life touched and influenced many other lives as she bravely battled one health complication after another.

A memorial service to celebrate the life of Amber Thorson is being planned for 12:30 p.m. today at First Baptist Church of Mariposa, 5005 Frank Wilson Road.

Following the service, a reception will be held at Building A at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds.

If friends and family wish to send flowers, Amber's favorites were in shades of purple and blue. Rita will be planting a memorial garden at their home.

Donations to the California Transplant Donor Network can be made at

The family appreciates all the support and prayers over the past year.

I'd like to close with one last thought. Amber's favorite song, "Testify to Love," was sung by Wynonna Judd in an episode of the television series "Touched by an Angel." It will be sung in her honor in today's service.

From what her mom says, even though Amber didn't understand the reason for her sufferings, she rarely complained. Her sweet spirit and a strength beyond her years kept her hoping for recovery.

As the lyrics of the song express, God's love was evident in Amber's life even while lying in the hospital bed surrounded by tubes, IVs, machines, or when medication or circumstances prevented her from speaking.

Realizing time was growing short, Jeff and Rita's tireless devotion to their daughter's comfort and care till the very end spoke volumes to everyone who has had the privilege of knowing this family.

Amber's family rests in the comfort of knowing she is no longer in pain. They're looking forward to a time when they will be reunited once again.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at

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