DEAR ABBY: At 35, my husband, Tony, was so gorgeous he stopped traffic. He was also artistic, talented, and had the biggest heart of anyone I’d ever met. Like most young couples, we dreamed of buying our first home, starting a family and growing old together. However, on Sept. 23, 1996, our dreams were shattered.

The memories are still a blur: The ambulance trip to the hospital. Emergency surgery for bleeding in the brain. The shocking discovery of a brain tumor. He was briefly conscious after surgery, then my darling slipped into a coma. The bleeding was unstoppable. Brain death was imminent.

That’s when I met Mary. She was Tony’s nurse in intensive care. Mary asked me if Tony was an organ donor. From the depths of my grief, I was suddenly given a different kind of hope – that other lives could be saved and Tony wouldn’t die for nothing. I remember that we had talked about his becoming an organ donor when he renewed his driver’s license. I knew it was what he had wanted.

Tony’s gift of organ donation is his living legacy in the truest sense. Just ask Mel, the liver recipient, who is healthy today; or the farmer who used to have to drive six hours for kidney dialysis, who can now enjoy the work he loves again. With so many people on the waiting lists today, organ donation is truly a gift of life. — ROSE D’ACQUISTO, NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION DONOR FAMILY COUNCIL

Thank you for your important letter. April is National Donate Life Month. For more information about organ donation, or a free organ donor card, readers can contact the National Kidney Foundation at Box DA, 30 E. 33rd St., New York, NY 10016, or call (800) 622-9010. The Web site is:

I’ve learned that as of October 2002, 80,000 individuals are waiting for transplants; of those, 53,000 are waiting for kidneys. Last year, 28,000 potential recipients died waiting for kidneys. In 2001, 14,000 kidney transplants were performed – 8,200 from cadaver donors and 5,900 from living donors. The good news is that living donation is becoming a viable alternative to cadaveric donation. The number of living kidney donors grew 12 percent last year, while cadaveric donations showed only a 1 percent increase.

DEAR ABBY: I am 20 and have been with “Adam” a little over two years. (He’s also 20.) We have always been serious about each other. I am now ready to move forward in our relationship and get an apartment with him. I finally found one we can afford. It’s near Adam’s college, not far from both our families. You should see it — it’s beautiful!

A week before we planned to move in, Adam told me he is unsure about our relationship. We had been quarreling a lot, but we talked and straightened everything out.

Now, a month later, the landlord called and said the apartment is ready. I told Adam, and he came up with yet another excuse not to live with me. When I asked if he wanted our relationship to go further, he said he used to!

I love him dearly, but we don’t seem to be on the same page. Am I wasting my time? Please help. — HURT IN RUTLAND, MASS.

This qualifies as a case of bad timing. It’s obvious from what Adam is telling you that he’s not ready to make the kind of commitment you want. Accept it. And if you’re really in love with the apartment, consider renting it with a roommate.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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