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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Our beloved daughter-in-law died following an auto accident two years ago. Bonnie was in terrific condition and had entered the Chicago Marathon. While she was still in high school, Bonnie had made it known that she wished to be an organ donor.

When it became apparent that the only thing keeping her alive were the machines, our son was approached and asked about organ donation. He told the doctors to "take all of them." Thus, our daughter-in-law became an organ donor for five major lifesaving transplants (heart, lungs, two kidneys and liver) in addition to skin, cartilage, etc.

Tim has received letters (with names deleted) from the recipients and their families. All are thankful that their quality of life is now normal; some wouldn't be alive without the new organs. This knowledge is the only thing that has made sense in this tragic loss. It has made our suffering tolerable. The slogan says it all: "Don't take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here."

Years ago, I had the privilege of cheering for Rod Carew in Minnesota. It was with deep sorrow that I read of his search for a matched donor and the loss of his daughter for the lack of that match. At one time, I was a bone marrow donor, so I take pride in the fact that doctors and scientists learn from each procedure. However, they can do these high-tech procedures only if they have donors.

We are all potential lifesavers. Abby, please continue to urge your readers to tell their families they wish to be organ donors, and to be tissue-typed for bone marrow donation. Blood donations are also needed. -- PHIL FAABORG, MIDDLETOWN, IOWA

DEAR PHIL: My condolences on the untimely loss of your beloved daughter-in-law. Your son, Tim, is to be commended for his compassionate and generous response in the face of personal tragedy. Your powerful letter is a timely reminder that April 19-25 is Organ Donor Awareness Week.

Readers, as important as it is to become an organ donor -- if you choose to do so -- it's equally important to make your wishes known to your doctor and the members of your family. Then if an emergency arises, there will be no surprises.

DEAR ABBY: I read the letter from "Retired Military Man," who suggested using our closed military bases for training young people. I am a retired female veteran and have always thought it is a waste to close bases after so much money has been put into them.

Military bases are like small towns. They have everything within walking distance -- grocery stores, shopping centers, banks, barber/beauty shop, medical clinics, gyms and much more. I think they would make excellent retirement communities. Retired folks could live in reasonably priced homes and have the services they need close at hand. It would also provide hundreds of jobs for people in the community.

What do you think of this idea, Abby? -- KEMA AUSTIN, O'FALLON, ILL.

DEAR KEMA: I think the need for affordable, convenient housing for seniors is critical. Your idea has considerable merit.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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