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Organ donors give gift of life

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By Holly Kluver

About nine months ago, I never thought I would be standing on my soapbox and using the words "Organ", "Tissue", "Donor" and "My Mom" in a complete sentence. But last summer that changed. My mom, Corrine Stein, became that: an organ and tissue donor.

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On a typical summer evening my mom went on a bicycle ride with family. There was no special destination in mind, just up the road a bit, maybe to the "four corners" or further. Within a blink of an eye, my mom and her bike were on the ground. Then the emergency personnel came, the emergency flight to a metro hospital and the somber words from the team of medical doctors, saying there was nothing they could medically do for my mom. She was brain dead. The tears of sorrow came; the thought that this was the end of my mom's life here on Earth began to sink in. It was a lot to take in, it felt like a dream, but it was not.

Slowly, my family and I said our goodbyes to her, she was hooked up to numerous machines, (including a breathing machine) and barely recognizable except for her nose and small wedding band. Then a very nice nurse approached us about organ donation and asked us to wait for a donor coordinator to come. After some quick education on the subject, we all agreed it would be something our mom would want to do -- give until the very end.  

Two weeks later we found out a lady in her 60s from Minnesota received one of her kidneys and her liver. And a man in his 30s, also from Minnesota, received her other kidney. Someone else had a cornea transplant with one of her corneas and countless others benefited from her gift of bone and tissue.

Since that time, there isn't an hour that goes by, that I don't think of her. She was an awesome lady. She made the best caramel rolls, offered the right words to a tired mom with a high-speed toddler, patched a hole in a grandson's pants quicker then you could say "Mom, would you mend this?", and in general made every day special. That was my mom. She rocked. She shared her gifts every day and even at the end of her life.

April is National Donate Life Month and I want to encourage everyone reading this to think about and talk to their loved ones about organ donation. One person can save up to 60 lives. It only takes a couple minutes to sign up at www.donatelifemn.org or just a quick checkmark on the Organ Donor box on the driver's license form.

Holly Kluver lives in Farmington, Minn.

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