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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Today is Sunday, April 20, 1997, the first day of Organ Donor Week. I just sat down with the morning paper for the first time in a week and read your article on organ donation. It was so timely.

Last Sunday at 1 a.m., George Paul Eldridge III, my 26-year-old son, had an automobile accident. We were told the brain damage was so severe there was no hope. Some time later, a doctor asked how we felt about donating organs. His father and I, along with the rest of the family, agreed that we wanted a part of him to live on in others. He was so giving and caring, we knew that would have been his wish.

An EEG was done on Sunday and again on Monday. It showed only minimal brain activity. I still hoped for a miracle, but by Tuesday, April 15, when the final EEG was done, he was declared brain-dead.

We buried this wonderful young man on Friday, but I find comfort in knowing he has helped others. We have already been informed that a 19-year-old girl received one of his kidneys, and a 33-year-old man with two children received his heart.

I urge anyone in this situation to do as we did and give other families hope for a future. -- PAM HALEY, LITTLE ROCK, ARK.

DEAR MRS. HALEY: I offer my deepest sympathy on the tragic and untimely death of your beloved son. You and the rest of the family are to be commended for your act of generosity in the midst of your own shock and grief.

From your description of George Paul Eldridge III, the man who received his heart (and the spirit within it) is fortunate indeed.

DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I will be getting married in July, after an 18-month engagement. We have worked very hard on our wedding plans to make sure our special day is as perfect as possible.

Throughout our engagement, my future mother-in-law has been nothing but trouble. There have been many problems, but one has been especially upsetting. Early on, my future mother-in-law talked about giving me a big family bridal shower. I thought this was fine. As the months went by, the shower date kept changing. Now she says she wants to have a combination baby shower for her daughter, my future sister-in-law, and bridal shower for me, six days before our wedding.

Am I selfish because I want a separate bridal shower? I plan on getting married only once, and want everything to be "special." How can I explain to my future mother-in-law that I would rather not have a bridal shower at all than to share it with someone who should have a shower of her own also? -- HURT IN PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR HURT: You are not being selfish. You and your future sister-in-law are both celebrating very special events in your lives, and each of you should have an individual shower.

According to the etiquette books, neither shower should be given by your future mother-in-law. As I have explained in my booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding," showers are never given by either the bride's immediate family or her fiance's. Generally the maid of honor, a bridal attendant or another close friend -- anyone who is not related -- gives the bridal shower. And the appropriate time for it is approximately six WEEKS before the wedding, not six days.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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