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by Abigail Van Buren

Donating Organs Allows Life to Flow From Death

DEAR ABBY: Donating the organs of a recently deceased loved one should be decided upon well before the time when the loved one is taken by the Lord.

Less than a month ago, my wife of more than 33 years passed away quite unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm at the age of 54. We had shared with our daughter our plans for organ donations, subsequent cremation, and the distribution of our worldly assets. Since the aneurysm took my wife within a few days of the onset, we had very little time to prepare for her death.

When informed of the death by the doctor, I knew I had the duty to proceed as we had agreed, despite my grief. It helped me deal with this untimely, tragic loss.

We were informed at the time of her death that there is a 12-hour window of opportunity during which harvesting the organs is expected to have the best chances for successful transplant. All my wife's organs were used successfully for others. Being a devoted Christian, I know she is well pleased with that result.

I have a cancer condition that may prevent use of my organs, but if they can be used to help someone else, I can only hope for it to occur as I plan. We have a friend who is a kidney recipient, and his life has been mercifully extended because of the transplant.

Abby, we should admit that it is not IF, but WHEN. Every one of us will die. Preparing for our ultimate departure could take very little time when done in advance and should help our survivors in dealing with the grief that will unavoidably follow death.

Planning for disposal of our worldly assets as well as our physical being is the responsible thing to do for those we love, especially when we think of ourselves as good stewards of the resources given to us by the Lord while we are here on Earth. After all, what we should really be focusing upon is being found worthy to be accepted by the Lord after our time here is past. -- DENNIS ROHN, HOODSPORT, WASH.

DEAR MR. ROHN: I offer my sympathy on the sudden loss of your beloved wife. You have stated the issues involved in organ donation about as well as they can be presented. It takes courage and compassion to grant permission for organ donation while suffering the pain of personal loss. However, doing so literally means the difference between life and death for those who are on the waiting lists for vital organs. You and your late wife are to be commended for planning ahead and discussing a topic that many find difficult to talk about.

DEAR ABBY: Jeanne Eccher's letter about her encounter as a 10-year-old girl with former President Harry S. Truman and his kindness to her reminded me of my own encounter with a future president. It was in July 1947, and my family was touring Warner Bros. Studio.

We entered a set of "That Hagen Girl" just prior to the filming of a scene. In the booth of a mock-up drugstore soda fountain was a young Ronald Reagan and a young actress whose name I forgot long ago.

As soon as the scene was finished, Mr. Reagan bounded from the booth to where we stood. He told us about the movie and described what it was like being an actor. He signed a "call sheet" for me and was so friendly and solicitous about our enjoying ourselves, that the tour and Mr. Reagan became engraved in my memory.

Although I had voted for some of his Democratic predecessors, when Ronald Reagan ran for president, it was my pleasure to vote for the good man who had been so kind to me when I was 10. -- JAMES A. PRENTICE, M.D., AUSTIN, TEXAS

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