Still, I'd mostly forgotten about our discussions about organ donation when I happened across a segment on "Good Morning America," where they rebroadcast a story by reporter Gary Reaves that originally appeared on its ABC affiliate, WFAA in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
The story was about 13-year-old Taylor Storch, of Texas, who was vacationing with her family in Colorado when, on the last day of their ski trip, Taylor crashed into a tree. After Taylor's parents were told she would not survive, they decided to donate her organs, knowing it was something their daughter would have wanted.
The recipient of Taylor's heart was Patricia Winters, a 39-year-old Arizona mother whose heart had begun to fail shortly after the birth of her second son five years earlier. Winters' condition had deteriorated to the point where she was so weak she was sleeping 18 hours a day.
Although recipients of donated organs are usually kept confidential, publicity following Taylor's death enabled both her family and the recipient's to quickly recognize their connection.
The televised segment I watched (www.wfaa.com/news/health/taylors-gift-103409364.html) shows Taylor's parents meeting Patricia Winters for the first time. Taylor's mom hugs Winters so tight, and you can guess what she's thinking. Taylor's heart is there. It's still beating.
Although it was nowhere near the same as getting to hold her daughter again, I can imagine how it must feel to know that a part of her is still alive -- even if it's in someone else.
I suppose there are some naysayers who might feel that it's morbid, but I can't imagine anything more comforting than to know the person you loved is still around and still able to help another person.
Actually, many others, since a single donor can save as many as nine lives through organ donation, and can enhance more than 50 lives through tissue donation. In Taylor's case, her pancreas and one kidney went to a 49-year-old husband and father, while her other kidney went to a 33-year-old man. Her corneas and liver changed two other lives.
All I know is I've never seen anything that affected me quite like seeing those two women embracing -- the one who had lost a life, and the one who had found life as a result.
Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinful...@gmail.com. For more information on the organ donation campaign Taylor Storch's family has launched, visit taylorsgift.org.