Lafayette

May 2, 2012 10:38 PM by Maddie Garrett

Teen Organ Donation: From Friends' Perspective

On Tuesday, KATC featured an Acadiana mother who lost 15-year-old son, 15 years ago. He was an organ donor and went on to save five people's lives and gave two people sight. His death and gifts of life not only impacted his family, but his friends as well.

"Justin was my first best friend from little boys," said Benny Benezech.

Benezech remembers the third day of school their sophomore year at Comeaux High. It was the day his friend Justin Harrison died in an accident.

"That's one of the biggest events that happened there at high school and everybody took note of it and it changed people's perspective, life is precious," said Benezech.

Though his death was tragic, Justin's classmates learned about something else that day: organ donation.

"The reason I became an organ donor was because of Justin, obviously. Didn't know anything about it before that and it seemed like an obvious choice after that," he explained.

Justin's high school girlfriend, Kristi Lancaster, was also changed, "I didn't know anything about organ donation until I met Justin," she said. "And I especially didn't know the impact that it has on the family, the good impact that it has on the family."

Both Lancaster and Benezech talked with their families and made the choice to become donors as teenagers. They said it was not only honor Justin, but to remember him by.

"I want to keep telling his story because, for one thing, I want people to know about him, I want people to remember him, even people that don't know him. And I want people to be organ donors and save other people's lives," said Lanacaster.

Since Justin's death, Benezech said he has lost other close friends, and that he's seen first hand the impact organ donation can have.

"And I've seen there's something about giving that gift of life to other people with your own life that helps those that you leave behind that love you, it helps them heal. It's some little positive thing that can come out of something that is otherwise inexplicitly horrible," said Benezech.

Benezech and Lancaster said they hope more people become donors because of Justin's legacy.

For more information on organ donation, go to Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency's (LOPA) website: www.lopa.org.

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