DEAR ABBY: One evening as I was preparing dinner, my teenage son, Allen, came to me and asked whether or not he should check "yes" to organ donation on his driver's license. I was shocked and unprepared to address the subject, but he persisted, saying, "If I don't need my organs, Mom, and they can help someone else -- why not?"
One year later, our beloved 17-year-old son suffered a traumatic brain injury in an automobile accident. As his father and I sat by his side, it became clear that Allen's life was to be no more. Brokenhearted, we desperately searched for guidance to somehow extend his time with us. But Allen had already given us the answer -- that evening discussion as I was preparing dinner.
Our son became a true hero the next day, when he donated the gift of a kidney/pancreas to a 29-year-old father of three boys. His left kidney, heart, liver, intestine and corneas went to other people in need of the "gift of life." Allen's love lives forever in our hearts, and his circle of life continues within the lives of those he saved.
This summer, I will see firsthand the power of Allen's gift of life as I join his kidney/pancreas recipient and thousands of others at the Olympic-style National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games, where he will celebrate and pay tribute to the gift of life.
April is National Donate Life month. In the spirit of love, I am thankful for Allen, the wonders of transplantation and the miracle of life. -- ALLEN'S MOM, AKA JEAN JANOHOSKY, MINNEAPOLIS
DEAR JEAN: Your letter touched my heart. Please accept my condolences for the loss of your son, and my admiration for your courage and determination to see that his wishes were carried out.
Readers, I encourage all of you to talk to your loved ones, listen to them, and say "yes" to giving the "gift of life." It is a way to ensure that a part of our loved ones lives on, and to improve the quality of life for people -- many of whom have been suffering for years, waiting and praying for an organ.
For more information, call the National Kidney Foundation's toll-free number at (800) 622-9010, or go to � HYPERLINK "http://www.kidney.org" ��www.kidney.org�. And if you could use a "lift," mark your calendar and consider attending the Olympic-style Transplant Games, which are being held in Louisville, Ky., between June 16 and 21. In a very real sense, these games are competitions where EVERYONE is a winner.