When his mother, Elizabeth Smith, died almost instantly of a brain aneurysm in 2005, Fred Taylor quickly agreed to donate her organs to the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency.
"I knew some of the other family members might not be too excited about it, but I also knew my mom," said Taylor, 34, a former standout quarterback at Hinds Community College and Texas Christian University. "It was like God was telling me at that moment to help someone else. I know that's what she would've done."
The 49-year-old Smith's organs helped save five lives.
"It was a sad time - she was buried on her 50th birthday," said Smith's mom, Lueretha Andrews of Jackson. "But she was a caring person. She worked in housekeeping up at (the University of Mississippi Medical Center) and she got to know some of the kids in the cancer unit. She was always trying to make them feel better. I'm glad Fred made the decision because we know through those five people she lives on."
MORA and Mississippi Blood Services sponsored a lunchtime picnic Thursday in downtown Jackson's Smith Park to help emphasize the need for organ and blood donors. April is National Donate Life Month.
"It's a natural joint venture," explained Tony Bahou, public relations manager for Mississippi Blood Services. "In order to perform an organ transplant, the patient has to have blood. And right now we're at about 80 percent self-sufficient. We would like to be at 100 percent so we don't have to rely on other parts of the country."
Bahou said a person donating one pint of blood could help save three lives. "It takes about 40 minutes to an hour to give - about the same amount of time it takes to watch your favorite television drama," he said.
Approximately 1,100 Mississippians are in need of a life-saving organ transplant. An average of 18 Americans die each day awaiting a donor organ.
Those are more than statistics. They are real people, such as Carol Watkins' father, Ronald Wright.
"My dad was diagnosed with an unknown liver disease and underwent a transplant in 1991," said Watkins, wife of Randy Watkins, director of the Viking Classic golf tournament. "We understand he received the liver of a 17-year-old female who was killed in an car accident.