By CYNTHIA FLASH/For the Auburn Reporter
It’s been 11 years since Shirley Harney Taylor’s 16-year-old son, Brandon, died suddenly in a bicycle accident.
She started July 31, 2000, as a professional woman and mom. The next day she was mourning the loss of Brandon.
In the fog of that day, when Taylor had to deal with such a loss, she made a life-affirming decision that has carried her through the past 11 years. The Auburn woman agreed to donate Brandon’s organs and tissues – priceless gifts that have given life and quality of life to 52 others.
Brandon attended Auburn High School and was about to enter his junior year. He was active in sports, including cross country, swimming, water polo and track and field.
Her 11-year journey to overcome grief and find new purpose is a case study in resilience and service to inspire people everywhere. It’s a comfort to Taylor, who has spent countless hours since Brandon’s death talking about the importance of organ donation and giving back to the region’s organ procurement organization – LifeCenter Northwest.
Taylor will talk to Bellevue business women about the life lessons she’s learned since Brandon’s death at the eWomanNetwork lunch meeting on Nov. 17 at Maggiano’s Little Italy, 10455 NE 8th St., Bellevue.
“Shirley has brought her passion for donation and the importance of growing the donor registry to community groups across our region and beyond,” said Megan Erwin, LifeCenter Northwest vice president. “She has been active as a leader on the national and local donor family councils – making her a valuable asset to our organization.”
It’s been a long and arduous journey for Taylor, a single mother who also lost an infant at birth. But she has persevered and has many lessons to teach others as they face adversity in their lives.
“I’ve become more conscious of the fragility of life, what we take for granted, knowing that tomorrow is not always there,” said Taylor, who has worked hard to see the positive from her tragedy. “When God closes a door, he opens a window. It’s the gift that Brandon left me. It’s my opportunity to get involved in this and to give as a person and to meet the people I have met.”
Taylor is especially gratified to know that in the first nine months of 2011 LifeCenter Northwest has saved and improved the lives of 212 organ recipients and more than 13,500 tissue recipients. And since Brandon died, the nonprofit organization has helped save the lives of more than 5,000 organ recipients.
“I have been blessed that part of my journey over the last 11 years has included LifeCenter Northwest. The dedication they have to making sure these critical gifts of life and of supporting the donor families through the process has been truly inspiring. The impacts of these gifts given at such a difficult time are the miracles that come from our tragedy and they would not happen if it weren’t for LifeCenter,” Taylor said.
Now is an especially significant time in Taylor’s life as she prepares to be honored – along with Brandon – at the Jan. 2, 2012, Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on a float to bring greater awareness to the importance of organ donation. All floats are made of natural materials, and as such, Taylor will create a “floragraph” of Brandon’s face out of 100 percent natural materials that will be part of the float. Taylor, a BECU manager, will put the finishing touches on the floragraph at an event at BECU in Tukwila on Dec. 8.
To register for the eWomenNetwork event, go to events.ewomennetwork.com. The event runs from 11:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. For more information, contact Debbie Whitlock at Events@eWomenNetwork.com or 972-620-9995.