EDITORIAL: Heart still beats, legacy lives on

York Dispatch
Lisa Benkert wears a bracelet for her son, Jordan, who committed suicide in 2011. The boy's organs went on to save four people's lives across the country.

The end of one young man’s life – cut short much too early when he took his own life – resulted in the beginning of new lives for a number of others.

That’s because his mother had the courage and generosity to say yes and donated his organs to others in need.

This month is a time to think about organ donation — and do some research on the subject to separate the myths from the facts. Deciding in advance to be an organ donor means your family may not have to make that decision.

But in the case of Jordan Benkert, the young man who took his life at age 17, and Courtney Montgomery, the 21-year-old woman who received his heart, it was Jordan’s mother who made the difficult decision.

York teen's heart beats on through organ donation

In a moment when she still believed he would be coming home from the hospital with her, a representative from Gift of Life asked Lisa Benkert if she would consider donating her son’s organs.

“I’m an organ donor. I always have been,” Lisa said. “I could not let another mother feel what I was feeling.”

Jordan’s heart was the first organ to find a match. One kidney is thriving in a man in Wisconsin, Benkert said. His other kidney and his liver are helping a grandmother see her grandchildren grow in Philadelphia. His lungs are functioning in another girl in North Carolina.

Lisa and Courtney and their families have remained close, having created a bond that is unique and lasting. When Courtney reaches milestones that Jordan will never reach, Lisa is there.

To donate an organ is to live on through the sustained life of another person. It's the ultimate gift.

While it may be daunting to consider, organ donation means a life can never have been in vain.

Dwendy Johnson, community relations team leader with the Gift of Life Donor Program, said one person can change the lives of 50 people through organ donation.

“In Pennsylvania, there are more than 8,000 people waiting for an organ,” Johnson said. “They could be male or female, young or old. It doesn’t matter. You could save them.”

Johnson said those who wish to could register to be a donor when they get their license. You can also register online to become an organ donor.

Lisa Benkert said she hopes more people will become organ donors in Pennsylvania so their legacies can live on, like Jordan’s has.

We hope Yorkers who read about Lisa's generosity will consider following her example of generosity and love.

For more information on becoming an organ donor in Pennsylvania, visit donors1.org.