After teenage son dies, Lafayette family raises awareness on organ donation

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Twenty years ago, there were only 88 people who donated organs in Louisiana. Last year there were 176 organ donors. That’s according to the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, or LOPA.

Now one Lafayette family has made it their life mission to raise awareness on the importance of organ donation after going through tragedy years ago.

Libbie Harrison’s 15 year old son Justin Harrison died after falling out of a pickup truck 20 years ago.

“I said I love you buddy. He said I love you too mom. Those are the last words I heard from my son,” Libbie Harrison said.

“I can remember him saying if anything ever happens to me, I want to be an organ donor. We kind of just blew it off like you’re 15, nothing is going to happen to you,” Heather Abshire said, Justin’s sister.

After the accident, Justin was brain dead, leaving his family to make the tough decision to donate his organs or not. His family said no three times.

“We eventually said yes and I think that’s the best yes that’s come out of my mouth because I don’t know where I would be today if we hadn’t said yes,” Libbie Harrison said.

Justin donated his heart, kidney, pancreas, liver, lungs and eyes.

Nine months later after his death, Libbie Harrison began volunteering for LOPE as part of her healing process.

“Burying a child is almost impossible to survive but it isn’t, we’ve survived,” Libbie Harrison said.

Now the entire Harrison family has gotten involved with LOPA, holding a golf tournament for the past ten years in honor of Justin to raise money for the organization.

“We need to be strong we have to carry on his legacy and that’s why we do what we do,” Abshire said.

Because without LOPA, Libbie Harrison said she isn’t sure where her family would be today.

“I think the biggest fear is that the world would forget he was here and that’s when I called LOPA. I just wanted to shout his name to the rafters and just let the world know he was here, he mattered,” Libbie Harrison said.

The tenth annual Justin Harrison Golf Fore Life Tournament is October 9 from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. at the Oakbourne Country Club.

You can register or sponsor a team online at LOPA.org/events.

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