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Give life; become an organ, tissue, eye donor

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Our son, TJ, didn't plan on being a donor. He was waiting for a life-saving liver transplant when he died. He'd lived his 36 years with a liver compromised by a congenital enzyme deficiency. By the time a matching deceased donor liver was found for TJ, he was a very sick young man, and he did not survive the surgery. Instead, he became an eye donor, with the blessing of his family.

We are comforted that TJ's story might help others decide to become donors. We know many other people are still waiting -- some desperately -- for the donation that could restore their health and hope. In fact, the current organ donor pool can only meet the needs of about eight people a day who are on the waiting list. More than 112,000 people in the United States need a life-saving organ transplant. Approximately 2,700 of those patients live in Minnesota. If more people register to be donors, more lives will be saved.

A new law going into effect on Jan. 1, 2012 could significantly increase Minnesota's registry of donors, and help heal people battling organ failure, devastating burns, blindness and other serious conditions.

Minnesota residents will now be able to contribute $2 to support public education about organ, tissue and eye donation when they apply for or renew their driver's licenses and ID cards. Known as the "You and $2" program, the law was modeled after successful initiatives in other states.

Contributions to "You and $2" will be distributed to organizations like LifeSource -- the statewide nonprofit responsible for managing organ and tissue donation in our region -- to help increase awareness about the need for more people to sign up and save the lives of others.

We know that organ donation can save lives. Our advocacy for organ/tissue donation has helped us to deal with our loss. We hope this letter inspires you to register as an organ donor and contribute to the "You and $2" program.

With these simple steps, every individual can make a difference in someone else's life, and leave a legacy of hope and healing. -- Carter and Florence Hedeen, Park Rapids

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