Friday, April 5, 2013

Taylor's Gift: A Story of Love, Loss and Life


Photo's courtesy of Todd and Tara Storch and Revell Publishing

Losing a child is heartbreaking. I can only imagine the devastating grief a parent must feel. Tara and Todd Storch know all too well how difficult it is. Three years ago they lost their thirteen year old daughter Taylor.

Taylor. 

 The Texas family was on a ski trip in Colorado when tragedy struck.  It was the last ski run, on the last day of the trip when Taylor had a terrible accident. She lost control and hit a tree.  She suffered a devastating head injury that she did not survive.

While dealing with the shocking news that their beautiful Taylor was not going to survive they were asked to give the gift of life and donate their daughters organs.  Taylor’s Mom and Dad, Tara and Todd, said yes. A decision that was difficult but made sense. Their caring, loving and generous daughter would have wanted to help others this way.  Taylor’s gift of life helped save the lives of five people.

It is a heart breaking story. It is a story no parent could ever imagine living. The Storch’s lived through it because of their faith, family and friends. There were moments of deep grief, heart breaking days and uplifting hope and new purpose. They created a foundation in Taylor's name, www.taylorsgift.org. They promote the need for organ donation but the website is also a resource for potential donors, family members of donors and the recipients. Now the Storch’s are sharing their story of life, loss and love in a new book called Taylor’s Gift. 

The book is a moving, emotional story. It takes the reader from the beginning of the Storch’s journey with Taylor’s accident, through their heart breaking grief and to their new found life purpose, spreading the message of organ donation through their foundation Taylor’s Gift.org.  There are moments in the book where the grief is almost too devastating to read about.  I can honestly admit I had to put the book down a few times to contain myself. There were moments I found myself reading through my tears.  The Storch’s story resonates with so many people because it is easy to see how their story could easily be your story, or my story. It could happen to any one of us. Todd and Tara have incredible strength. Their faith helped them survive some of the darkest days of their lives. It allowed them to find purpose in their tragedy. They found hope even in the despair of losing Taylor. Organ donation gave them hope and new found purpose. “We knew in our heart because of the type of child Taylor was (such a giving, caring child) that that would be what she would want. We made that decision for her knowing in our hearts it was the right one”, says Tara. “It was a privilege to be able to be asked that question of ‘will you choose to donate your daughter’s organs? She’s a beautiful candidate for this. Would you consider that?’” Tara says it was a privilege to be asked to donate Taylor’s organs.  It helped both Tara and Todd to know they weren’t losing Taylor completely, that she could live on in the lives of the people she was saving.  


The Storch's  say they hope to change the conversation about organ donation. They want people to know it is more about life than death. “It’s not necessarily about death, it’s truly about life. There is good that can come out of bad things. It really is the love story that connects with people” says Todd.  “Just like life insurance it is a gift to those who are left behind. Organ donation is the same thing. It is truly a gift to a whole lot more people.”

Todd and Tara were able to meet four of the five people who received Taylor’s organs, including the woman who received Taylor’s heart. They write about meeting these people in their book. The recipients and their families have become like an extended family to the Storch’s. One of the most moving parts of the book is when Tara re-tells the story of the day she heard Taylor’s heart beating again, beating in the chest of a woman. It was so moving. It brought me to tears.

While the book is sad, it certainly did not leave me feeling sad. The book has an inspiring message of life, love, giving and hope.  There is hope in knowing the lives of five people and their families live on. 

April is National Donate Life Month in the United States.  Todd and Tara, and their other children  hope by sharing their story you are inspired to find out more about organ donation and you register to be a donor.  In the US, over 115,000 people are waiting for life-saving organs; however, 19 people a day die waiting for this gift. Go to TaylorsGift.org for more information about the foundation, the book and how to be an organ donor in the United States.  Thousands of people in Canada are also waiting for life saving organs. In Ontario alone, there are over 1,500 people awaiting a transplant according to the Trillium Gift of Life Network http://www.giftoflife.on.ca.  Canada's rates for organ donation are very low: 22 per cent in Ontario, 18 per cent in British Columbia. Canada's rates are one of the lowest among countries that perform transplants. As Tara and Todd Storch stress, the process to become a donor is so simple. It is just a click away. Here in Canada, go to www.beadonor.ca to find out more about organ donation and register to be a donor.  

The Storch’s have launch a fun campaign to help raise awareness about organ donation and to encourage more people to join the conversation. Taylor’s Gift Foundation has joined forces with nail polish company OPI. “OPI has partnered with us and created a Taylor Blue Colour this is exclusive for Taylor’s Gift Foundation” says Tara. For a dollar a finger, $10, you can buy a bottle of Taylor Blue nail polish and all the money will go to help support the foundation.  You can post your picture on social media with the #Taylor Blue to take part of the Paint It Forward campaign. Tara says it is a fun way to promote the foundation and raise awareness of organ donation.






I received a copy of Taylor's Gift courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Publishing. Taylor's Gift is available at your favourite bookseller and online  from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.