Jayla’s passing saves 4 lives through organ donation: ESJ grad’s life honored with balloon release
LAPLACE — The impact Jayla Nicole Tassin made in her 19 years of life was evident as hundreds packed the Joe Keller Stadium Thursday evening, hands clutching pink and white balloons and hearts filled with immeasurable love.
The balloon release honored Jayla, a 2019 East St. John High School graduate who passed away Monday after falling victim to a rip current last week on a family vacation to Florida.
Jayla graduated with honors and a 30 on her ACT. She was scheduled to leave for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on August 18 and start a new chapter in life.
Now, she lives on through four individuals saved through her organ donations, according to her grandmother, Peggy Joseph.
“Through Jayla’s death came blessings,” Joseph said. “Two recipients received her kidney; one received her liver. That one that received her liver had 48 hours to live. She was a match. The other one received her pancreas. Jayla lives on. It lets me know that her living was not in vain.”
Joseph urged those in attendance to remember that no feud or struggle should outweigh love for family.
“I was Jayla’s grandmother, but I was her friend. We were so close, all of her friends called me Grammy,” Joseph said. “My strength is that Jayla knew the Lord, and I take comfort in knowing that she is resting in the arms of Jesus.”
It was an emotional scene as loved ones in the stands cried along with Jayla’s family, gathered together on the field.
Jayla’s mother, Evan Nelson, thanked everyone for the amazing outpouring of love.
“Jayla, we love and miss you so much,” she said through tears.
Benny Tassin, Jayla’s father, shared the same sentiment.
“This is the most difficult thing I have ever experienced in my life,” Tassin said. “Me and my daughter shared a close and very special bond that can’t be replaced. I love her with everything of me.”
Before the balloon release, Jayla’s teammates from the 2017-2018 East St. John track team presented the family with her letterman jacket.
Members of the East St. High School family were in attendance, reminding all to work hard and “let your life speak for you,” because Jayla’s life spoke volumes.
Principal Chris Mayes said, “Jayla’s bright smile, big heart, beautiful spirit, will continue to be a part of the Wildcat family and should also continue to be a part of you. Let us honor her beautiful spirit and bright mind and let us continue the legacy of excellence that she modeled as a Wildcat.”
Assistant principal Tiffany Benoit only knew Jayla for one year, but it didn’t take long for her to leave a positive impression.
“I can tell you she was a vibrant, beautiful soul, always kind, always smiling,” Benoit said. “These things are never easy, but as I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, if you are once a Wildcat, you are always a Wildcat.”
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