Photo: Lauren Stephens and Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander
Dear Ms. Picoult,
A car crash, a heart attack, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time can all end your life in a split second. No one can predict when these sudden events will occur, or if they'll occur to you. Although many lives are ended suddenly, organs can be donated to save lives and possibly give someone else a new beginning. Your book, My Sister's Keeper, made me analyze the power of choosing to donate your organs, and about how you never know which day will be your very last.
Last March as I filled out the forms necessary for my driver's permit I had to make the decision whether or not to become an organ donor. I thought about it for awhile, but in the end I chose not to. I'm not really sure why I chose no. It could be because my dad wanted to hurry up and get out of there, or I didn't feel like making that decision at the moment. It also was probably because I don't really like to think about death. Death. Even the word itself seems menacing to me, especially because I have so much life ahead of me. I'm fourteen years old and to tell you the truth the thought of dying is frightening to me. Due to my fear I chose "no." I figured that I'd never be put into a situation where that specific answer would hold so much power. But what if I did get into an accident and was killed instantly?
When I began My Sister's Keeper I thought it was just going to be another okay book. It wasn't until I was completely finished with it that I truly realized its power. It wasn't until then that I began to rethink my decision not to become an organ donor. Seeing how Anna saved Kate's life by choosing to donate her organs changed me. Wouldn't I want to save someone's life if I happen to have an untimely death? Although Anna didn't make the choice, her lawyer did because she was medically emancipated, it would've been what she wanted and I saw that. Because of Anna's unexpected death Kate was able to live out the dreams that she used to never imagine would come true. Without Anna's death Kate would've died at a young age, never having a chance to really live. This is a chance that most of the world takes for granted everyday. Most people never realize how privileged we really are. If I ever were to die I would hope that I'd be saving a life at the same time.
Because of your book My Sister's Keeper, the next time I go to the Department of Transportation building to get my real license I will be confident and proud of the answer I give them. "Yes," I'll say, "I'd like to be an organ donor." By choosing this answer I'll be choosing to continue living through someone else, even if I die. I'll also be choosing to say that I'm no longer afraid of death. Imagine the power we could have if everyone chose "yes." About 121 Americans alone die every day from automobile accidents. If all of these people's organs were donated they would give so many people another chance at life. Although death is unavoidable, by donating organs we can at least prolong lives for those individuals who otherwise might never get a chance to go to college, fall in love, and live out their childhood dreams.
Not only did your book change my way of thinking about becoming an organ donor, but it also made me realize that life really is short. I've heard that phrase so many times that I can't even count, but I never truly realized its power. Life can end in an instant, and it's too short to spend time fighting with the people you love, or not living out your dreams. It has pushed me to live every day like it's my last, because whether I like the thought or not, it could be. This book has changed my life in a way that will not only affect me, but someday could affect someone else and their loved ones if they're given a second chance at life. Thank you for a wonderful read that will always be with me.
Lauren A. Stephens