A 7-year-old girl who had heart and lung transplants was among the victims of the autumn blizzard that buried the Rockies and Plains over the weekend.
Kalana Calkins, who had the transplants in 1994, died after the storm cut power to her house - and the machines that helped her breathe. Snow drifts that closed roads prevented her parents from taking her to the hospital and blocked help from reaching their home."Everybody around here is really sad that this happened, but it's turning into a celebration of her life, too," said Lori Heman, a close friend of Kalana's parents, Peggy and Roger Calkins.
Kalana's health began failing in recent weeks. Her body was beginning to reject the transplanted organs, and her condition turned worse just as the blizzard set in early Saturday.
Nearly a foot of snow driven by 50 mph winds cut power to the Calkins' home, three miles outside Lakin, 35 miles east of the Colorado state line.
The family began a desperate effort to take Kalana to Kearny County Hospital, just 3 1/2 miles away. While trying to reach the highway near their home Saturday morning, the Calkins' four-wheel-drive vehicle got stuck in thick mud. They managed to return home and call for help.
Emergency crews tried to reach the family's home in special snow vehicles, but a downed power line over the road forced them to detour. Rescuers also got stuck.
With his daughter's situation worsening, Roger Calkins wrapped Kalana in a blanket and headed out across snowy fields to the nearby home of Kalana's aunt, Tracy Manly.
"She was up and down all night," Manly said. "She told her parents she was glad they were her best friends."