Thirty million people around the world will have the chance on Jan. 1 to learn about an Oklahoma City baby who lived only a few hours but in that time helped people who never knew her more dramatically than most of us do for anyone in a lifetime. Annie Rachel Ahern's parents knew five months before she was born that she had anencephaly, which prevents normal brain development. But they and her two sisters wanted to hold and kiss her and put their cheeks against hers. On her fleeting visit, Annie brought joy to the world when her tiny organs were donated.
Annie's story will be on display in the upcoming Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1. Her portrait, made entirely from flowers and other natural materials, will travel on the Donate Life float. One-third of the organ donors whose portraits are on the float were 17 or younger and their stories are as inspiring as they are heartbreaking.
The waiting list for transplants continues to grow with more than 120,000 Americans — from infants to great-grandparents — yearning for the gift of life. It's breathtaking, isn't it, that so many of them will receive that gift from a child?
Reg Green, La Canada, Calif.
Green is the father of 7-year-old Nicholas Green, who was shot and killed in an attempted carjacking in Italy. Nicholas' organs and corneas went to seven Italians, four of them teenagers.