A tragic loss of life saves countless others; the story of an organ donor

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Last year, nearly 29,000 lives were saved by organ transplants.

Still, more than 121,000 people continue to wait. more than 35,000 people on that list live in Virginia.

April is donate life month.

It's a national campaign encouraging people to become organ donors.

It also celebrates those who have saved lives through the gift of donation.

Tammy Coffey, the community education coordinator for Life Net Health says the most common reason people choose not to give is because of misconceptions about the organ donation process.

"The biggest misconception is that if they have a wreck or if they are in the hospital is that the doctors are not going to try to save their lives," Coffey said."That's the biggest misconception. The doctors in the medical facilities are going to do everything possible to save their lives and organ donation will come after they do everything to save their lives."

An advocate for the organ donation program through Life Net Health is a woman who knows first-hand the work they do. Jane Fisher LaPrade was by her son's side the day he passed.

"In my wildest dreams I woul

Jane wears her sons class ring from Franklin County High School everyday.
Jane wears her sons class ring from Franklin County High School everyday.

d have never have dreamed of having to go through this experience," LaPrade said.

It's an experience that Jane Fisher LaPrade and her husband have now lived through for 15 years.

"I don't think there is anything worse than to lose a child," Laprade said. Her son Keith LaPrade was just 16 years old when he was tragically killed in a car accident while driving home from tennis practice.

A student at Franklin County High School - his life was just beginning. His mother says he was planning on going to college. He was the type of person who brightened up the room."He always smiled. Keith always smiled. He was always in the best mood." A scrap book made by his friends as a gift to the family tells the story of the beautiful person his peers knew him as. His giving nature followed him even in death.

"It helps me in my grief process to know that he was able to do something for somebody else," LaPrade said.

After three heart-wrenching days in the hospital, on March 2nd, 2001 Keith took his last breathe.That night they were shocked to learn that Keith had signed up to be an organ donor.


"The thing about this, is that he had spoken with his two older sisters about it, but had not said anything to his parents. We did not know that that was what he wanted to do."

A registered nurse, 45-years in the health profession couldn't have prepared Jane for the decisions she was forced to make.

"At that time it was very difficult. But now as time has gone on it has certainly been something that has helped us along the way to be able to know that we were able to do that. To help someone else, and that's what he wanted."

Keith's donation of life was able to help almost one hundred burn victims. His parents were contacted by another who's life he saved. Dozens of others are out there somewhere... alive today because of her son.

"It makes me feel great. It makes me even more proud of him," LaPrade said. "He would be proud too."

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