Teens Donation Brings Families TogetherSHREVEPORT, La -- One teen's tragic death last year gave the gift of life to seven strangers. Saturday it brought two families together for a celebration of life.
Sherry Sellers' 19-year-old daughter Brande Denson's heart beats on in the chest of 66-year-old Barbara Larson. She's one of the people who received an organ from Brande.
Larson's year-long wait for a transplant came to an end in April of 2009, but she never imagined it would come from 1,200 miles away. It was Easter weekend when Brande was killed in a car crash. The end of her life meant a new beginning for Barbara.
Larson and Sellers met for the first time in July 2010 after months of letters through the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA).
"It's like I'd known her all my life," said Larson "I think we both felt the same way like we'd known each other. It was not uncomfortable; it was a good feeling."
The agency brought this extended family all together again Saturday at the 2nd Annual Donor Memorial Picnic at the State Fair of Louisiana.
Sherry didn't even know her daughter signed up to be an organ donor.
"I thought it was very brave, and I thought it was very honorable," said Sellers. "Now we have seven recipients who continue to live because of what she did."
Brande was going to start nursing school around the time she died. Her mother says it was her dream to help save lives
LOPA officials say there are far too few organ donors. More than 109,000 men, women and children are on the national transplant waiting list. In Louisiana, there are more than 1,800 peopel waiting for organs. However, there are less than 200 people registered to donate organs in the state. Nearly 20 people die everyday because a life-saving organ transplant did not come in time.