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Donating their children's organs can help grieving parents cope

It might appear to be a heart-wrenching decision to choose to donate your child's organs after a fatal accident, but the decision is actually an easy one to make, according to one mother. She lost her two teenaged children in a car accident last year.

Though the mother was stricken with shocked grief at the sudden, unexpected loss of loved ones, she said she made the decision without hesitation to donate their tissues and organs.

"That's what they would have wanted," she told USA Today at her Medina, Ohio, home. "It was kind of an easy decision."

Her son, 13, and daughter, just about to turn 17, died when their vehicle was slammed into by a car driven by another high school student.

A pediatrician and transplant surgeon at Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital told the newspaper that the organ and tissue donations give parents "some sense of closure," as well as allowing "them to know that their child is living on in a special way."

He said the decision is a "very healing and very powerful" one for many parents who have lost children in wrongful death incidents.

A more recent example took place in Tucson when the father of a nine-year-old girl killed in the Jan. 8 shooting of 19 people donated his daughter's corneas to a pair of children.

A child psychologist interviewed for the article said if parents know they're helping other parents avoid the experience of seeing a child die, they're more disposed to sign off on donations.

About two-thirds of parents of eligible children consent to make their kids donors, he said.

Resource: USA Today: "Transplants offer solace in time of heartache": January 26, 2011

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