Memorial service today for Burbach

Memorial service today for Burbach
The St. Thomas More Newman Center at The University of South Dakota will host a memorial service at noon on Friday, June 22 in remembrance of student Janell Burbach, 20, from Hartington, NE.

Burbach, who recently completed her sophomore year at USD, died last week at a Sioux City, IA, hospital. She fell ill at a camp in northwest Iowa and was hospitalized with bacterial meningitis, a an infection of the fluid of a person's spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain.

She was pronounced brain dead Wednesday, June 13, and officially deceased after donating organs Friday.


"Her last selfless act was to donate her organs in order to improve the lives of others," said Terisa Remelius, Ph.D., assistant vice president of student services and dean of students at USD.

"That was her choice long before this ever happened," said Fr. Joe Forcelle, director of the Newman Center Ministry Team.

Burbach's lungs were given to an individual with cystic fibrosis and her pancreas and one kidney were given to a diabetic who is on dialysis. Burbach also donated the other kidney and her liver.

"The family wants to use this as a way to emphasize how generous their daughter was," Forcelle said.

As a student on the USD campus, Burbach served as a community advisor in the residence halls, including Richardson Hall last fall and Olson Hall this past spring, and she was actively involved in music and service trips. Burbach also helped co-found U Blanketeers – a campus group that makes and collects blankets for Project Linus, a national organization that provides hand-made security blankets to children in need.

"She was active on our campus as a community advisor and attended the Newman Center regularly. So thoughtful of others, Janell even started her own student organization with the U Blanketeers," Remelius added. "Janell dedicated her life to her faith, her family and to serving others."

Forcelle will serve as Mass celebrant at Friday's memorial service. The Newman Center is located at 320 E. Cherry St. in Vermillion.

Funeral services for Burbach were held 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Hartington, NE. Burial was in St. Michael's Cemetery, Hartington.

USD officials have been working with the state Department of Health to identify individuals who may have been in contact with Burbach in the week before her death. These individuals have been given antibiotics.

USD officials do not know how Burbach contracted the disease.

In 2006, a USD student was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Also, McKenzie Hartwig, a USD freshman, died from bacterial meningitis in 2001. Hartwig, who was from Pinedale, WY, played on the USD volleyball team. She died while the team was competing in Fargo, ND.

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