‘What we were chosen to do’

Taylor Storch died in a skiing accident when she was 13, but her parents' decision to donate her organs help five people live longer, better lives.

Taylor Storch died in a skiing accident when she was 13, but her parents’ decision to donate her organs helped five people live longer, better lives. Courtesy photo.

Until three years ago, Todd and Tara Storch hadn’t thought much about organ donation. Then their teenage daughter, Taylor, died in a skiing accident. At the hospital, a transplant team approached the Storches and asked if they would donate Taylor’s organs.

“We knew the answer was yes,” Todd Storch said in a recent phone interview. “In the worst moment of our lives, that was the easiest decision we had to make.”

A few months later, Storch made another profound decision: He left his consulting job and launched the Taylor’s Gift Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to raising awareness of organ donation. The foundation is based in Texas, where the Storches  live with their other two children, but its efforts — including a campaign to recruit organ donors during the Super Bowl —  have reached across the country.

Too many people, Storch said, view the subject of organ donation as taboo. Taylor’s Gift wants to change that by having a public, positive discussion.

“This isn’t a morbid conversion,” he said. “It’s a fantastic conversation about how to make this world a better place than we found it.”

In addition to educational events, the foundation maintains a list of resources for anyone curious about organ donation and operates a scholarship program in Taylor’s memory. Also in the works: a grant program to help families struggling with the cost of transplant surgery. (Donors’ families are never charged, but recipients often face the kind of bills that mount with any serious medical condition.)

Starting a foundation from scratch hasn’t been without its challenges, but Taylor’s Gift continues to grow, recruiting volunteers in more than 30 states. The Storches are at the center of the effort, telling their story to media outlets and writing a book that will be published this spring.

“It became obvious that this was what we were chosen to do,” Todd Storch said. “So we accepted that.”

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