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by Abigail Van Buren

Organ Donation Turns Tragedy Into Triumph for Two Families

DEAR ABBY: I just read the letter from Sen. Bill Frist urging people to become organ donors, and I want to tell you our personal experience.

Our precious daughter, age 19 and a National Merit Scholar, was killed in an automobile accident in September. While at college, she signed an organ donor card, and I knew about her wishes.

When the doctor told us there was no hope, my husband and I received comfort from being able to tell the doctors that our daughter had signed an organ donor card, and we wanted to carry out her last wishes. The coordinator, a registered nurse who took us through the procedure, could not have been kinder. She told us she would stay with our daughter the entire time, and that our daughter would be treated with every consideration.

Although we cannot bring back our wonderful child, it gives my husband and me great solace to know that somewhere out there, families are giving thanks for the new chance at life they have received. During her lifetime, our daughter brought joy and happiness to her family and friends. Through the gift of her organs, she continued to do so for others.

I urge all of your readers to sign and carry an organ donor card. -- COMFORTED MOTHER IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR COMFORTED MOTHER: My sincere condolences to you and your family on the tragic loss of your beloved daughter. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience so that an important message can be heard. I hope the following letter of gratitude will help illustrate what an enormous difference organ donation can make in the lives of the recipients and the people who love them:

DEAR ABBY: Your letter from Sen. Bill Frist really hit home. The day before it appeared in your column, our son-in-law finally got the call for which we had been waiting almost two years: A kidney from a 28-year-old woman was being flown in from the East Coast to Minneapolis for our daughter, who has been diabetic for 20 years. The last five years have been increasingly difficult, from kidney failure to loss of her eyesight. You can't imagine the gift this woman and her family have given us through the donation of her kidney.

In our joy, we now turn to the family of the donor in their sorrow. We want them to know how grateful we are for this gift of life. In that giving, their daughter will live on in ours. You will all be in our prayers. -- L.A.S., INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, MINN.

DEAR READERS: Now is a good time to search your hearts and add your name to the lists of those who wish to give the gift of life to someone who desperately needs a transplant.