Benjamin Franklin once said that the only thing certain in life is death and taxes. We prefer to say that the only things certain in life are saving lives and taxes. And so tax day was the perfect day for Donate Life Day at the Minnesota state capitol.
We were honored to have donor family members, transplant recipients, staff and elected officials commemorate the day with us. Residents from accross the state met with their legislators to thank them for their strong support of donation. Two legislative leaders, Senator Linda Scheid and Representative Maria Ruud, expressed their continued diligence in ensuring that Minnesota legislation supports and encourages citizens to save lives through donation.
The highlight this morning, however, was hearing from Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. In addition to being a supportive elected official, Secretary Ritchie has a very personal connection to our mission – he is a donor father.
His daughter, Rachel, died nearly 10 years ago when she was hit by a drunk driver. Just 9 days shy of her 21st birthday, Mark and his wife were unsure what Rachel’s wishes were regarding donation. They felt her moving them to say yes to donation and her generous gifts saved the lives of 5 people, including a 16 year old girl whose high school graduation picture now hangs in his home office as a constant reminder of his daughter’s legacy.
About a month or two after Rachel’s death, Mark and his wife were going through Rachel’s mail that had laid unopened in the weeks following her death. In the pile was an envelope from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. It contained Rachel’s new driver’s license, the one she had applied for in advance of her 21st birthday. There, on the back of the license, was a powerful indication. It said “organ donor = yes”.
Mark talks about the incredible power of finding that license, almost as if Rachel was telling them that they did the right thing. They knew what she wanted. And there is power in making that decision.
Secretary Ritchie closed his comments this morning urging Minnesotans to make a decision about donation and to tell their family. “Not only did Rachel’s gifts give new life to the recipients,” he shared, “organ donation gave me MY life back. It softened a place in my heart that had hardened after her death.”
To echo the Secretary’s comments: If you haven’t already, please make the decision to be a donor today. Take 5 minutes, get the facts and register.