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Organ donation a selfless act

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Statistics tell us that some 80,000 people nationwide await some type of organ transplant. More than 4,000 patients are waiting for a lung or heart-lung transplant. Some 53,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant. The lives of countless others could be improved through bone and tissue transplantation.

As compelling as the numbers can be, the issue takes broader significance when a family, faced with profound tragedy, sees beyond their grief and makes the life-saving decision to offer a loved one's organs, tissues and cornea's for transplant.

This was the choice of Esther Hope Howard's family. Esther, 8, was critically injured in two-car accident in Layton on June 28. She died the following day but was kept on life support to facilitate organ donation. The accident also killed the girl's mother, Janine Howard, and her 11-year-old brother, Matthew. Two other siblings, Caleb, 7, and Rachel, 13, were injured in the accident. Caleb remains in Primary Children's Hospital, but Rachel has been released, according to the Howard family's blog.

In a statement to the community, the family expressed its gratitude for the blood donations used to treat their children. The Howards also urged Utahns to "give the gift of life by giving blood and supporting organ donation."

To use the Howards' words, "In tragedy there is opportunity for greatness. Our children have been our greatest blessing and now they have the opportunity to be a blessing to others."


We hope that Utahns will heed this call. Most mainstream religions encourage donation or leave it to individuals to decide for themselves.

As the Howard family prepares to bury their loved ones today, Utahns should pause to reflect on the family's decision to give the gift of life to others in the form of organ transplants or blood donations. Utahns who want to be organ donors should indicate their intentions on their drivers' licenses and register with the Organ Donation Registry at www.yesutah.org. Go to www.idslife.org for more information about organ donation. This information also should be included in wills or medical directives. Families should discuss these matters so survivors know their wishes.

Organ, tissue and blood donations are obviously personal decisions, but as the Howard family example teaches, it's an opportunity to extend life and improve lives.