Parents who donated late daughter's organs: 'It was the right choice'

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By Meghan Holohan

Almost daily, Tara Storch gazes in the bedroom of her daughter and best friend, Taylor, and imagines the teen at 17, learning to drive, getting ready for prom, texting her friends and enjoying life.

“I think about it every day,” Tara told TODAY. “I mean, I see her friends driving, I see prom pictures being posted and homecoming moms and everything that goes into being 17. And, I had plans with her.”

Three years ago, during the last run of a family ski trip to Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado, Taylor stumbled backwards and crashed into a tree. Only a day later, the doctors told the Storches the news that every parent dreads—13-year-old Taylor was brain dead.

“This starts with a tragedy, it starts with a really bad thing. But, so many beautiful things came out of it,” Todd Storch, Taylor’s father, told TODAY.

That’s when Tara and Todd made the brave choice to donate Taylor’s organs to save others. They believed that this is what their ever-generous daughter would have wanted.

“When faced with that decision, we knew it was the right choice for our family. But also the type of child Taylor is, was. Giving, caring, other centered. We knew it would be something she would have chosen,” Tara told TODAY.

Six months after Taylor’s death, the Storches met Patricia Winters, an Arizona woman with cardiomyopathy, who received Taylor’s heart. Tara had the chance to listen to her daughter’s heart beating in Winters’ chest -- a heart that allows Winters to be there for her own sons.

Now, the Storches have chronicled their experiences—stories of Taylor’s life, the impact of her death, and the struggle to become advocates—in a new book, “Taylor’s Gift.”

The Storches didn’t simply donate their beloved daughter’s organs, which helped save the lives of five people, they also became advocates for organ donation. They had learned that while 90 percent of Americans claim they would donate their organs, only about 30 percent understood how to do so. They founded to help others register for organ donation. Since its inception three years ago, more than 12 million people have registered.

Even though the pain of loss feels incredible, the Storches find new meaning in the Taylor’s Gift Foundation and its mission. All the proceeds from the book and sales of OPI’s Taylor Blue nail polish help support the foundation.

“We’re able to make the world a little bit better than we found it, so we have to be grateful for that,” Todd said.