Laci Michelle Taquino was a very active and outgoing 15-year old who was known for her humble and quiet personality. She was a dancer, cheerleader and maintained a 4.0 GPA as an honor student. She loved spending time with family and friends. Always smiling, she strived to help others and make those she surrounded herself with continuously happy. She will forever be remembered for her hard work and dedication in everything that she did.
On August 12, 2006, preparing for the start of her sophomore year, Laci attended a poster party with her fellow cheerleaders. Later that evening, Laci’s boyfriend came over to watch a movie and spend time together. They were both on their cell phones making plans for the annual "Meet the Spartan”, their athletic orientation, to be held the following day. Laci’s Mom, Lisa, says, "Something made me take a picture of them. Little did I know this would be the last picture of my sweet daughter.”
Just one hour later, Laci complained of a massive headache. She was not one to complain, therefore, Lisa rushed her to the emergency room. A CT scan revealed a massive intracerebral hemorrhage from an undiagnosed Arteriovenus Malformation (AVM). A craniectomy was performed to stop the bleeding and Laci’s family was told that, at best, she had a 50/50 chance of survival. On the morning of August 14, 2006, doctors informed Laci’s family, that due to the increased swelling of her brain, Laci was brain dead.
Laci’s parents were then approached by LOPA about organ donation. Lisa stated, "While still in shock, our first response was no." However, she suddenly remembered a conversation that she and Laci had thirty days prior.
At the end of June, Laci attended driver’s education. Lisa recalls Laci saying, "Mom, the people from LOPA came to talk to us today. I need to know what to do.” Like most parents, Lisa didn’t want to think about the possibility of anything happening to her child. Lisa replied to Laci saying, "I can’t make that decision for you, but don’t worry you have plenty of time to make your decision. It’s only a learner’s permit.” In typical Laci style, knowing this was an important decision, she called Nana, her godmother, to discuss it.
On July 13, 2006, Lisa took Laci to get her learner’s permit. Excitedly, she showed her mom her license. As soon as she looked at it, Lisa noticed the heart and asked Laci "You decided to be an organ donor?” Laci said, "Yes, I spoke to Nana about it. She told me ‘wouldn’t you want someone to help Stevie (Laci’s godchild) if she needed’.” That was all it took to help her make her decision. She wanted to be able to give to others if given the opportunity because of her loving and giving nature.
Laci’s Mom and Dad discussed conversations like these that they had had with Laci and decided to honor her wish. On August 15, 2006, Laci saved the lives of six people.
Lisa says "Honoring Laci’s wish by saying "Yes” to organ donation is the one positive outcome from such a devastating situation. Through volunteering with LOPA, I make it my mission to help educate others about Organ Donation and the importance of discussing it with your family. I refer to these precious times as my "Laci Days”. I get to spend the day with her the only way I can and I cherish each and every one of them.”