By Bob Aronson
The population of the United States is about 320 million. Of that number 120,000 are on the national organ transplant waiting list. 22 of them die every day because there are not enough organs to go around. Numbers, just numbers. We hear them so often they are meaningless. But the numbers aren’t meaningless to the Husband who just lost his wife because there was no kidney for her, or the child who lost her dad because there was no liver. These numbers represent human lives, You or someone you love could be one of them some day and I know that from personal experience.
I was a broadcast journalist in 1967 when Dr. Christian Barnard performed the first heart transplant in South Africa. I remember telling one of my reporter colleagues that it was a really big deal because it would someday save thousands of lives. It never occurred to me that 40 years later I’d be one of those who benefited from Dr. Barnard’s pioneering efforts. I had a heart transplant In August of 2007
So don’t ignore those numbers because all the numbers have faces and names and feelings and they are scared and alone and in need. Right now 22 families are grieving, many children are being told that mommy or daddy won’t be coming home again. A parent is being told their 12 year old won’t survive the night. We are talking real lives here not just numbers. There are people out there, real honest to goodness people who just lost someone because there was no organ and they are so stricken with grief they cannot function. There are nurses and doctors who have to tell families that because there was no organ their loved one died. That means over 8,000 people die every year waiting for an organ transplant that never happens and every one of them is loved by someone. Every one of them will be missed. Many of them may have had great futures, we’ll never know because a whole lot of Americans just didn’t get around to becoming organ donors.
How can that be? How is it that a nation of 320 million people can allow 8,000 of their friends and neighbors to die when the solution is so simple and I mean really simple. You don’t even have to leave home to do it. You don’t have to get out of your damned chair. Just open the laptop, or turn on the desktop or say, “Hi Google,” to your tablet and you will be registering in mere moments. Keep reading and I’ll explain exactly how to register and save lives and you can get to feel really good about yourself.
First, chances are pretty good that you want to become an organ donor. You just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But, if you haven’t yet made up your mind think about this. Why take perfectly good organs to the grave with you when they could save some lives? Up to 60 lives can be saved and/or enhanced by one organ donor who is in good health.
Many organs can be used to save a life. In fact, one person has the potential has save up to eight people. Tissue donation can help more than 50 people and eye donation can restore the sight of two individuals. Here is a list of organs that can be donated: Lungs, Heart, Liver, Kidneys, Pancreas, Small intestines and skin (yes, skin is an organ).
While not organs, there are many other body parts than can be transplanted as well including Corneas, Heart Valves, Bone, Saphenous veins, Cartilage and ligaments to name a few. http://www.organdonor.gov/awareness/organizations/local-opo.html
So what’s the Problem? Well, there’s more than one. About two million people die every year but many of them are not organ donors. Also a large number of people who die have damaged and therefore non transplantable organs.
The biggest problem we face, though, is procrastination. In case you don’t know what that is it is when you see that mess in your garage and say, I’ll get to that tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. Polls and survey’s tell us that in excess of 90% of all Americans think organ donation is a great idea, but only about 40 percent actually become donors. And in some cases, not many, but some families will object to recovering the organs from a loved one for transplantation.
So let’s ask the question again, What’s the problem? Well, sorry to say it Americans, but you might be a big part of the problem. If you are not an organ donor, why not? What good are your organs going to do if cremated or buried with your body? It’s time you not only thought about organ donation, but did something about it. If you are not a donor here are some ways you can become one.
The easiest way. Go to www.donatelife.net. You can do this one from right where you are sitting. It only takes a few minutes, then tell your family, your physician and your spiritual or religious advisor…and you are done. You can formalize the process by adding “Organ donor” to your driver’s license, but again, be sure to tell your family what your wishes are so there’s no confusion when and if the time comes.
If you are confused about the process call your local OPO (Organ Procurement Organization) There are 58 of them in the United States. For help in finding yours go to http://www.organdonor.gov/awareness/organizations/local-opo.html
Recently I had a non-organ donor tell me that while it wasn’t on his license he was still a donor. He said he had made sure that his attorney included his wishes in his will. Well, I’m not an attorney, but aren’t wills usually read after the funeral? By then it is far too late to recover organs for transplant. If you do nothing else…nothing at all…tell the loved ones in your family that you want to be an organ donor so if the time comes and they are asked they’ll be able to say, “Yes,” we know that’s what he wanted.
It is my opinion that one of the reasons people procrastinate is that they don’t see any urgency in signing up. They think, “I’m in good health, I plan on living a long time and they can’t take my organs until I am dead, so what’s the rush? It’s a good question. I’m sure the 30 year old man whose heart beats in my chest might have had the same thought at one time, but he signed up anyway.
The point is none of us know when we are going to die. I pray that everyone who reads this leads a very long life, but that’s not reality. Some will die well before “Their Time.”
So there is an urgency, both on your part and on the part of the recipient. Can you imagine what it feels like to be on a transplant list day after day, month after month, year after year, waiting for an organ, knowing you are dying and there’s little modern medicine can do short of a transplant. Think about that…seriously think about that for a minute.
Peter Curran and his wife Ashley know what that’s like. They live in Boston. Peter has been on the list for eight (8) years. 8 years — that’s mind boggling torture for both Ashley and Peter. They are friends of mine and oh so brave and upbeat, but as time goes on Peter’s liver isnt’ getting healthier and he is spending more and more time in a hospital bed because of complications. Peter Curran needs your help. Ashley loves her husband with every fiber in her body, she is an excellent caregiver, but somehow we — all of us, the medical system, the government — everybody is failing them. Why is there no liver for Peter? It’s because not enough people are donors. If you are procrastinating or know of someone who is, remind yourself or your friends of Peter and Ashley. He can’t work, he has very little energy or stamina. He’d love to go to work again, he’d like nothing better, but right now all he and Ashley want is for someone to donate a liver that matches Peter’s needs. Seriously, is that too much to ask, I think not.
Now some people don’t donate because they believe in the many myths surrounding organ donation. So let’s take that on, too, while we are at it. Here’s’ what the American Transplant Foundation has to say about the subject:
Myth: Age, illness or physical defects could prevent me from being a donor
Fact: Each person’s medical condition is evaluated at the time of their death to determine what organs and tissues are viable for donation. People living with chronic diseases or those who have a history of cancer or other serious diseases are still encouraged to join the donor registry.
Myth: If doctors know that I am registered to be an organ or tissue donor, they won’t work as hard to save my life.
Fact: The first priority of a medical professional is to save lives when sick or injured people come to the hospital. Organ and tissue donation isn’t even considered or discussed until after death is declared. ypically, doctors and nurses involved in a person’s care before death are not involved in the recovery or transplantation of donated corneas, organs or tissues.
Myth: If you are rich or a celebrity, you can move up the waiting list more quickly.
Fact: Severity of illness, time spent waiting, blood type and match potential are the factors that determine your place on the waiting list. A patient’s income, race or social status are never taken into account in the allocation process. Click here for more details about organ allocation by organ type.
Myth: After donating an organ or tissue, a closed casket funeral is the only option.
Fact: Organ procurement organizations treat each donor with the utmost respect and dignity, allowing a donor’s body to be viewed in an open casket funeral.
Myth: My religion doesn’t support organ and tissue donation.
Fact: Most major religions support organ and tissue donation. Typically, religions view organ and tissue donation as acts of charity and goodwill. Donor Alliance urges you to discuss organ and tissue donation with your spiritual advisor if you have concerns on this issue.
Myth: My family will be charged for donating my organs.
Fact: Costs associated with recovering and processing organs and tissues for transplant are never passed on to the donor family. The family may be expected to pay for medical expenses incurred before death is declared and for expenses involving funeral arrangements.
If you desire more information about the facts and myths of organ donation please visit. http://www.americantransplantfoundation.org/about-transplant/facts-and-myths/
Please remember when you hear 22 people die every day waiting for an organ that the numbers have faces and names and the smile and care and hurt just like you do. Remember Peter and Ashley and the thousands just like them. Register as an organ donor and feel like a live saver. That’s a pretty darn good benefit.
Bob Aronson is the founder of Facebook’s Organ Transplant Initiative support group and the founder and author of the nearly 300 blogs on Bob’s Newheart where you’ll find information on a wide variety of subjects related to donation and transplantation. http://www.bobsnewheart.wordpress.com
“One can never pay in gratitude: one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.”
Anne Morrow Lindberg
A note from Bob Aronson
This post falls under the category of “Inspirational stories” in my blog index. We’ve had several such stories but none outshines this one. It is truly remarkable.
“Officer Down” are two words no one ever wants to hear and we hope and pray they never have to be said again. Too many fine young men and women have died in the line of duty. This is the story of one of them and how despite his death a part of him lives on.
David Moore of the Indianapolis, Indiana Metropolitan Police Department was an “officer down” in that particular call. He was a bright, energetic, well-liked and committed policeman who was taken from us in his prime.
Lance Lewis was struggling for every breath he took when Officer Moore was gunned down. Lewis was suffering from a genetic lung disease that was destroying his lungs. He never knew what it was like to take a normal breath, to run with other kids and take part in activities that called for exerting himself. It just wasn’t possible. He is seen in the picture to the right some two and a half years before Officer Moore’s untimely death. Lewis was extremely thin and struggling to make it through every day.
By now you’ve guessed that Lance Lewis was the recipient of David Moore’s lungs but if you stop reading here you will be doing both men and yourself a disservice. You simply must read, re-read and digest this incredible story.
Everyone who gets a transplant has been through an epic journey and experiences all the extremes human emotions can allow. And…no transplant patient travels the road alone. It is usually a family affair, sometimes it’s a community affair but great numbers of people are ultimately involved in every transplant.
You don’t hear about donors quite as often as you hear about recipients for two reasons 1) most donors are deceased and 2) many donor families prefer to remain anonymous. When recipients and donors or donor families do get together, which is not common, the story becomes doubly important. The recipient gets a new life and the donor family most often has an uplifting experience and develops a strong relationship with the recipient of their gift of life. Donor families often suffer great grief and then great joy simultaneously. Grief from having lost a loved one and joy from knowing they saved at least one life and further joy often when they meet the recipient(s).
This blog is about two wonderful families and a sad but wonderful outcome. It is a story that should be told again and again and again. This is long for a blog, just like my last post, but I believe our readers want some meat on the bones of the stories I tell and this one has plenty of that.
Officer Moore was a true hero whose memory will live for a very long time. Lance Lewis is also a hero because of the way he honors the gift of life from his donor. Lance does everything he can to not only take good care of his new lungs but to keep this story alive in hopes that by telling and re-telling it he can encourage others to become donors as well. These two men didn’t know each other but their lives intersected in a very meaningful way.
At the end of this post you’ll find an update from Lance Lewis and several pictures that relate to experience with his donor family along with his individual accomplishments.
A true organ donation story as
reported in the Indianapolis Monthly magazine.
by Evan West
Two years ago, policeman David Moore was gunned down in the line of duty. A family lost their only son. But his lungs have given another man a remarkable second chance.
Editor’s Note, June 21, 2012: Thomas Hardy was sentenced to life in prison without parole in April. Eric Jenkins was indicted today on three counts of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Authorities allege that he sold the semi-automatic handgun noted in this story to Hardy in 2011.
When you’re on the list, you pick up the phone—middle of the night, in the bathroom, driving. Lance Lewis knew the statistics: on average, every day in the United States, 18 people on the list die waiting. When the phone rings, you answer.
Lance was on the couch when the call came. The computers had identified him as a potential match. He and his wife, Cathy, lived on the south side, and they would need to get to Methodist Hospital, in downtown Indianapolis, as soon as possible. “We think we have a pair of lungs for you,” the caller said.
The date was January 26, 2011. The last time a call had come, almost exactly a year earlier, Lance wasn’t ready. Making it through a lung transplant was difficult enough, even for a relatively healthy patient, and Lance had been recovering from a bout of pneumonia and had a fever. Several calls went back and forth between him and the hospital, touch and go, until doctors decided to move on to the next name on the list. He and Cathy cried. Then they regrouped. “That wasn’t the call,” she told him. “Those weren’t your lungs.”
The two had grown used to waiting. When Lance first went on the list, in 2003, about 30 other would-be recipients stood ahead of him. After two years, his name had moved up to number 10. When the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization, or IOPO, changed the rules so that the sickest patients would get lungs first, Lance dropped back to number 36. He and Cathy agreed it was only fair. His doctor suggested they pull his name off until things got worse. “When you get sicker,” he said, “come back and see us, and we’ll get you right back on.”
Now Lance had difficulty carrying a gallon of milk from the car and up the three steps to his front porch. He had used an oxygen tank off and on for the past two-and-a-half years—and for the last year, he had been hooked to the thing constantly. So when this pair of lungs became available, Lance’s name was near the top of the list. A blood test confirmed his match with the donor, and that night, at about 10:30, technicians wheeled Lance into an operating room. His adult children, two of whom lived hours away, arrived just in time to tell their father they loved him. They didn’t know if they would have the chance to tell him again.
In the waiting room, Cathy watched two televisions flash updates about a young policeman shot during a traffic stop a few days earlier, who was at another hospital just blocks away. It has been a turbulent few days for the Moore family and fellow IMPD officers, as David Moore has fought for his life … Now they’re forced to face the worst, as his battle has been lost … It seemed like everywhere she looked, Cathy saw a television with another report about that policeman and his parents. She felt like crying for them. And it seemed like everyone around her was talking about it. Strangers kept asking her why she was there. “My husband is having a lung transplant,” she told them.
David Moore grew up in a police family. His father, Spencer, served in Vietnam with the Air Force’s security police. In 1968, he joined the Indianapolis Police Department where he would climb the administrative ranks to the level of lieutenant.
After joining the department, Spencer founded Explorer Post 435, part of an outreach initiative for teenagers interested in law enforcement. In 1974, a 17-year-old high school senior named Jo Ann Cord—Jo, as her friends called her—walked into a meeting in a church on the south side. She had wanted to become a police officer since reading The Super Cops, an action-packed book about real-life New York policemen. The first day he met Jo—self-confident, outspoken, pretty—Spencer, then 30, says he knew he was going to marry her, even though she thought the older policeman was, in his words, “an unmitigated, arrogant asshole.” But past the wisecracking exterior, she saw a man who was fun, and caring.
Spencer asked Jo’s father for permission to “court” her. Jo wasn’t pleased. “I thought courting meant getting married, and I thought we were just dating,” says Jo. “I got all upset in front of my dad. Courting? What’s courting? Spencer was like, ‘Oh, good Lord,’ because it showed the 12 years of age difference.”
The following March, Spencer bought a pair of rings, then waited until Jo graduated, in May, to propose. “I told Spencer, ‘If you don’t want your wife to be a policeman, don’t marry me,’” she says. “That would have been a deal breaker.”
They married in the fall, and a daughter, Carol, came four years later. They had their second child, David, in 1981. When David was 4, Jo decided to join the department. In preparation for the entrance exams, she carried study materials around their southside tri-level to look them over while she did housework. One morning, she heard David crying in his room. “If you’re going to become a police man,” he asked her, his little face streaked red, “then who will be my mommy?”
Young David spent a lot of time around the department. Jo worked on Mounted Patrol, and he would feed and groom the animals in the horse barn. He also visited headquarters, where his father worked. “I was in administration, so I had offices instead of squad cars,” says Spencer. “People got to know him. David was just a nice kid, pleasant and respectful. He was always around police. Our friends were police. By the time David was into his formative years, that’s all he knew.” He talked about being a police officer when he grew up, just like his mom and dad.
David was a big, strong boy (he would grow to be over 6-feet tall and a muscled 200 pounds), but he was also kind, and children around the neighborhood looked to him to settle disputes. He and Carol, his older sister, were close. The two of them were home alone one day, and David, roughhousing, punched a hole in the wall. Carol carefully patched and painted it to hide the evidence. Their parents never knew about the damage until years later, when Carol, as an adult, finally copped to the cover-up.
From the time they were married, Spencer encouraged Jo to be an equal partner. He wanted her to know how to fix stuff around the house. Independent by nature, Jo relished such tasks, and Spencer would sometimes return from conventions to find that she had remodeled an entire room. Spencer had never wanted a “grocery-shelf” wife. More important, he says, “I knew that if something happened to me, she would be left alone.” The two bought funeral plots, so that if one of them was killed in the line of duty, the other wouldn’t have to decide in mourning where to hold the burial. “With him being a police officer, and with my years of service,” Jo says, “the idea of not coming home is kind of in the back of your mind.”
When David was 6, his parents brought him to a memorial service held for Officer Matt Faber, shot after entering an eastside home. When David was 11, he attended a service for Officer Teresa Hawkins, killed in a crash while driving her patrol car. The elaborate ritual, the regalia, the bowed heads, the tributes—all the trappings of the police funeral seemed to move him deeply. He looked off to the distance through the window of his mother’s squad car as the two rode along in the procession.
Cathy Lewis used to tell Lance that he moved “like a turtle,” because it took him a long time to do anything. They would go shopping, and he would still be climbing out of the car after she had already walked into the store. The two married in 1977, just six months after they met. (On their first date, he had moved to kiss her good night. “If you’re not looking for a real relationship, then you’d better run,” she told him, “because I could see myself falling for you.” He called her the next day.) Lance had never been particularly active; his mother told Cathy that, even as a boy, he frequently struggled with bronchitis. They had always assumed he had asthma. But over time Lance seemed to be getting worse. He would lose his breath and need to rest after simple tasks.
In 2000, when Lance was 43, he went to the doctor for chest X-rays. The doctor looked at the X-rays and recommended he see a pulmonologist. Then, the pulmonologist looked at the X-rays. “Lance,” he said, “you have the lungs of an 80-year-old man.” The images showed lung deterioration consistent with emphysema. But unlike the emphysema of, say, long-term smokers, which damages the lungs from the top, the deterioration in Lance’s lungs seemed to be spreading from the bottom. “I can tell you exactly what the problem is,” he said. “But we’ll have to do a blood test to confirm it.” A lab in California proved what the pulmonologist had surmised: Lance had alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, an inherited genetic disorder that allows the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue in the lungs. Since birth, Lance’s white blood cells had been slowly devouring his ability to breathe.
Although Lance’s condition appeared in his lungs, the disease actually originates in the liver, which is supposed to produce an enzyme that prevents the lung damage. But no doctor would agree to replace a liver that was, as in Lance’s case, otherwise perfectly healthy. Eventually, Lance’s lungs would stop functioning completely—but no one could say for sure when that would be. Five years? Ten?
Lance would need a lung transplant to save his life. But he faced a difficult decision. If he did nothing, mortality would overcome him in a gradual, measured advance. On the other hand, lung transplantation carried tremendous risks. Recipients died on the operating table. They died when their bodies rejected the donor organs. They died of infection. The average five-year survival rate was a flat 50 percent. Lance had to weigh an impossible dilemma: When should he trade the certainty of a gasping, drawn-out demise for a surgery that gave him a 50/50 shot at a longer life—but also a 50/50 chance of dying even sooner than the disease would kill him?
Lance’s son, Jason, told Lance that he would “rather have a sick dad for 10 years than a healthy dad for five.” But three years after the diagnosis, Lance and Cathy decided to let doctors put his name on the transplant list.
Then they waited.
In 1996, David Moore enrolled at Franklin Central High School. Sometimes David got into fights. As a freshman, he had a man’s body and a deep voice, and when other children were bullied, they seemed to look to David for help. One day in the hall, a student dropped some books, and as others jeered and kicked, David stooped to help gather them up. When another boy persisted in kicking at the books, David shoved him away. A teacher contacted David’s parents and told them the altercation typified David’s troubles. “He is quite the protector,” the teacher said.
Before the school year was over, David’s parents moved him to Roncalli, a Catholic high school. Not long after starting there, he told his mother that a classmate had dropped some books on the floor, and David had braced himself for another fight—until everyone else bent to pick up the books. “He knew he had found a home,” says Jo.
“This big, burly guy just kind of walked in the middle of freshman year,” says Zack Conover, a close friend of David’s. “Everyone was gawking at him, because he had a full-grown beard, and he was real quiet. He intimidated a lot of people.” When David warmed up, though, Conover discovered that he was “a B.S.er.” He had a “shit-eating” grin (as David’s dad called it) that signaled his intentions for mischief. Conover, who played football with David, says he liked to sneak into the locker room and move around teammates’ photos and other personal items.
David became a star defensive end and co-captain on the Roncalli team that went undefeated and won a state championship in 1999. David excelled in the classroom as well, and he was drawn to the physical challenge and discipline of military training; as graduation approached, he fielded scholarship offers from The Citadel and the United States Coast Guard Academy. He opted for a Marine Officer NROTC scholarship at Purdue, in 2000, and once there, he left the same strong mark he had in high school. On one occasion, Spencer and Jo visited the school’s administrative offices, and the reaction they got made them think they had been mistaken for celebrities. “The place went crazy,” says Spencer. “You’re David Moore’s parents? Hey everybody, David Moore’s parents are here!”
For David, a military career beckoned. He introduced his father to an old Marine master gunnery sergeant who worked with him at Purdue, and Spencer recalls the man telling David, “You are one of the few people I’ve met at your age that I’d follow anywhere—even into the gates of Hell.” When it became apparent that an old knee injury would keep David out of the Corps, a colonel pleaded with superiors to keep him.
But fate, it seemed, had other plans. In 2004, David, then 22, returned home to join the Indianapolis Police Department’s 102nd class of recruits.
Officer David Moore was driving a patrol car down Michigan Street in the near-westside neighborhood of Haughville, at close to midnight, when he heard bursts of gunfire. It sounded like they were coming from the side street he had just passed. Another officer patrolling the area, Adam Chappell, passed him coming from the opposite direction on Michigan just moments after the shots rang out. The two were on street-level enforcement detail, or SLED, a unit focused on crime “hot spots” around the city. David picked up the radio. “Chap, did you hear that?” he barked.
“It sounded like what I imagined Fallujah sounded like,” says Chappell. “It was a gun battle.” The two officers made quick U-turns and steered down Goodlet Avenue toward a parked van. They heard more gunfire and saw the outline of figures scrambling away into the shadows. As David drove on toward the van, Chappell, following behind, turned down an alley and then jumped out of his cruiser to chase the fleeing assailants. Then he heard more gunshots. BAM. Pause. BAM BAM BAM BAM. They had come from the street, right where he had last seen David pulling up on the parked van.
“It sounded like what I imagined Fallujah sounded like,” says Chappell. “It was a gun battle.”
Suddenly, quiet. Chappell called out. Dave, you okay? No answer. David! He jumped back into the car and sped around to the front of the house, fearing the worst.
“It sounded like what I imagined Fallujah sounded like,” says Chappell. “It was a gun battle.”
As he pulled up to the van, he saw David. He was standing there, gun drawn, with five men lying on the ground before him. Four were facedown on the pavement, surrendered. The fifth was fatally injured. A Bersa .380 semi-automatic handgun—a cheap, easily concealable pistol the man had fired at David from a few yards away—still lay by his side. For the incident, which occurred in 2008, the department would award David the Medal of Valor.
“We all work with these officers—they’re just kind of there, soup and sandwich,” says Chappell. “You think, ‘Man, if something ever happens, I hope he’s not my backup.’ But David was a go-to guy. I knew that if I was involved in something serious, David was going to come running.” Officer Jeremy Gates used to patrol with David in the North District, and he says he could barely get David to slow down long enough to grab a gas-station sandwich for dinner. He had a preternatural ability to spot suspicious activity. Without notice, he would stop the cruiser, jump out, and take off on foot toward a suspect. “Aside from the receding hairline,” says Gates, “he was the poster boy for what a police officer is supposed to look like. His uniform was always squared away, boots shined—the whole nine.”
David was also a good guy who knew how to have a good time. Single (and something of a ladies’ man), he took Christmas-day shifts for officers with families. And he was a “slim jim” master. Gates remembers parking his car downtown to testify in court, then returning to find it wasn’t where he’d left it. “I thought, ‘Holy shit, my car’s gone,’” says Gates. “I thought I was going to have to be that guy who reports his police car stolen.”
But if David’s horseplay endeared him to colleagues, he took a thoughtful approach to his duty as an officer. After a few years in the department, a former employer’s daughter, interested in law enforcement, asked for guidance, and the two exchanged emails. “Think about this,” he wrote. “I had a house on my beat. A lady was raising a boy and a girl. The boy was 10 and the girl was 8. They literally had to pay for lunch and dinner. The mom was so broke she couldn’t afford the food, so if the kids wanted to eat they had to pay her!!! The boy was out stealing and selling things. Do you know any of your friends who have had to do that? … That is how this job will change you. It changes your black and white outlook to a grayness.”
Danger—the danger that led to the police funerals he attended as a child, the danger that made his parents buy burial plots, the danger that placed him in a kill-or-be-killed shoot-out—wasn’t something David talked about. The job wasn’t about catching bad guys; it was about making people’s lives safer. But he wasn’t naive.
“We can’t help everyone, and if you try you will be beat down emotionally,” he wrote. “There will always be bad people.”
On January 22, 2011, at around 5 a.m., a 60-year-old ex-con named Thomas Hardy pulled into the Mallard Cove apartment complex, off of North Shadeland Avenue. According to witness statements, he walked into an apartment to smoke crack cocaine. At some point, he and a man in the apartment named Eric “Boo” Jenkins struck a deal: Hardy would trade a crack rock for Boo’s Bersa .380 semi-automatic handgun. Hardy wanted to settle a beef with another man he claimed had cheated him out of $100.
On January 23, at around 5:30 a.m., David left the IMPD’s North District headquarters, on East 30th Street, to start his patrol. It was his second morning on the day shift. He had requested the new assignment because he preferred the schedule to the overnight hours of the middle shift—done by 2 p.m., with the rest of the day to do what he wanted. He had called his mom after that first day. “I think I’m going to like this shift,” he said.
At close to 9 a.m., David was driving down East 34th Street when he followed a gold-colored Camry onto North Temple Avenue, into a modest working-class neighborhood. David flipped on the flashing lights, and the Camry came to a stop; no one knows why the car caught his attention. “The hardest thing I face is a traffic stop,” David once wrote to his young email friend. “Regardless of how rough an area is there are always good people who live there. Honest hard-working people. I make a lot of good arrests off of the simplest traffic stops you can imagine.” David pulled up behind the car and ran the plates, then got out of his cruiser and walked up to the driver’s-side window.
A few blocks away, officer Matthew Mielke was pulling out of the parking lot of North District headquarters when he heard gunshots. Then a voice came over the radio. Officer down in the 3400 block of North Temple. Mielke rushed to the scene. Moore’s police cruiser was parked at an angle to the curb. The lights were still flashing. In front of the car, on the snow-covered street, lay the rumpled figure of a uniformed police officer. Mielke called in the medics, then ran over and kneeled down beside the officer. It was David Moore. He was lying on his side, not moving. His pulse was fading. Another officer arrived, and the two of them gingerly rolled David over onto his back. That’s when they saw that he had been shot in the head and neck area. His gun was still in its holster.
When medics arrived, David was still alive. But just barely. They cut off the front of his bullet-resistant vest, loaded him into the ambulance, and, led by a police escort, rushed him downtown to Wishard Hospital. Another officer helped remove and secure David’s gun. One of the medics handed the officer a .38-caliber slug that had fallen out of David’s clothing.
Back on Temple Street, investigators swarmed over the scene to try to figure out what had happened. The plate number of the Camry was still up on the monitor of the laptop computer in David’s cruiser. It turned out the car had been reported stolen about a month earlier. A crime-scene specialist found seven spent .38-caliber shell casings and one .38-caliber slug on the ground near where David had fallen. Police interviewed neighbors on the block, and a blind man who lived nearby told them he had heard four gunshots, a pause, then three more. Another neighbor had looked out the window of her house to see an officer lying in the street and a gold-colored car speeding away.
About an hour later, the manager of a southside Dollar General store called the police to report that a man had just carried several bags of Cheetos to the counter, then pulled a handgun on the clerk and swiped $101 from the register. The clerk said he was wearing tan slacks, dress shoes, and a black leather jacket with a fur-lined hood. He had left a bag of Cheetos on the counter.
Although it’s not clear why, police soon turned their attention to a man named Thomas Hardy. They found an address, just a few blocks from the Dollar General robbery. There, Hardy’s niece told investigators that he had called her that morning from a number that turned out to be a downtown pay phone in Circle Centre mall. Detectives checked the mall’s surveillance tapes and saw a man who matched the description of the robber. They later found the Camry parked in the garage of the JW Marriott hotel a few blocks away. Surveillance videos showed that the same man who had robbed the dollar store and used the mall pay phone had left the car there at around 10:15 a.m. Later that afternoon, a crime-lab examiner found fingerprints on the Cheetos bag left behind at the dollar-store robbery. They were a match with Thomas Hardy.
As detectives tracked Hardy’s movements on the morning of the shooting, a federal law-enforcement agency contacted police to let them know they had received a tip from an informant named Penny Torrence. At close to 5:30 that evening, a team of IMPD officers surrounded Torrence’s near-westside home, looking for Hardy. They ordered Hardy to come out. When police took Hardy and Torrence into custody, she told them to go into the house and look inside a green bag. When they returned with a warrant, they found a Bersa .380 semi-automatic handgun.
Torrence told detectives that Hardy had showed up at her house at around 9:30 that morning. He had asked for money. She didn’t have any. So he told her he was going to go get some. When he returned, he had cash, and he said it had come from the dollar store. He told Torrence he needed to ditch the car because police were looking for it.
She asked Hardy what he had done. He said a cop had pulled him over that morning and walked up to his car. He said he had a gun he had picked up at Boo’s place. Hardy was on parole, and if the cop found the gun, he would go back to prison. So, he said, he put a round in the chamber and switched off the safety. Then, he told her, “One thing led to another.”
David had been shot six times—twice in the face. Two bullets hit him in the leg; another struck his ammunition pouch. It appeared that his bullet-resistant vest had stopped at least one shot from penetrating his torso—the round was still lodged in the vest when David was found.
David’s parents stood sentry at the hospital and held news conferences to address the public’s concerns over David’s condition. Worried IMPD officers hung around the hospital lobby at all hours of the day and night. Across the city, people who knew David, and many more who didn’t, prayed for his survival. Close to 300 showed up for a vigil at a church near where he was shot.
On Tuesday, January 25, a hospital MRI indicated that David would not regain consciousness. That evening, IMPD chief Paul Ciesielski convened a news conference to announce that David’s parents had decided to take him off life support. He would be the first officer in the newly organized department to be killed in the line of duty. IOPO staffers rushed to identify potential organ recipients. In David’s room, nurses moved him over on his bed, so Jo could lie next to him during his last hours.
Officer David Moore was pronounced dead at Wishard Hospital at 6:18 a.m. on Wednesday, January 26, 2011. Because he had been in such peak physical condition, and because the bullet-resistant vest had protected his chest and abdomen, doctors were able to recover his lungs, heart, liver, and both kidneys. Although his fatal head wounds had left his eyes intact, IOPO staffers feared that recovering any tissue from the neck up might interfere with the autopsy. At the last minute, the coroner’s office gave the okay to remove and transplant both corneas as well.
That afternoon, Lance Lewis received his phone call, and late that night he went into surgery. The procedure would last nearly nine hours. Before going to the hospital, Lance had followed the young policeman’s shooting, and he had a hunch that he was getting the officer’s lungs. It was one of many thoughts that ran through his mind as he lay on his side waiting for the anesthesia to take hold.
Some of the family members who waited out Lance’s surgery at the hospital shared his speculation about the donor, and they chatted about it to help pass the time. “I told my daughter, Angie, ‘I wish everybody would stop talking about the officer, because we don’t know whose lungs these are,’” says Cathy. “But she said, ‘I don’t care. I’m going to believe they’re the officer’s lungs.’ To her, it just made sense.”
“I told my daughter, Angie, ‘I wish everybody would stop talking about the officer, because we don’t know whose lungs these are,” says Cathy.
Cathy got phone calls throughout the early morning from a transplant coordinator. “They just put him on his side,” he told Cathy. Then, “They’re getting ready to take out the right lung—he’s doing great.” Then, “The right lung is out, and the new one is in. We’re getting ready to flip him over.” Calls every hour, until the last call, well after daybreak. “Everything went well,” the coordinator said. “He got a really good set of lungs.”
When Lance awoke, his belief that the donor must have been the policeman remained. IOPO keeps all organ donor and recipient information strictly confidential, but Lance knew that, someday, he needed to meet the family that lost a son in giving him new life.
Months after David’s death, Jo Moore composed seven handwritten letters. She didn’t know who would read them, only that they had received David’s organs. She wanted the people who carried around parts of him to know what kind of man he had been, how much he had meant to her.
IOPO delivered the letters, and Lance got one of them a few days later. “I am so glad you received David’s lungs,” she wrote. “I admire your strength and courage to be an organ recipient. We pray that you live your life and enjoy what the future brings.”
Lance began to handwrite a reply, until he realized that the tremors in his extremities, caused by medication he took to prevent his body from rejecting David’s lungs, made the words illegible. So he typed. “Words cannot express how blessed I am to have been entrusted with David’s lungs,” he wrote. “I will cherish, protect, and use them to their fullest. Your family’s gift of love has given me a new life for which I will always be grateful.” He told her he hoped they would meet one day.
As Jo and Spencer Moore began the process of coming to terms with their loss, authorities moved swiftly to impose justice on the man accused of pulling the trigger. On January 27, a day after David Moore was removed from life support, Marion County prosecutors charged Hardy with murder, robbery, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. A few weeks later, they filed a request for the death sentence.
Hardy has a long rap sheet, mostly property crimes and drug offenses, accumulated over several decades. Hardy’s niece, who helped investigators locate him before his arrest, told The Indianapolis Star that the crime he now stands accused of “is not in my uncle’s character.” In a written statement, his attorneys, Ray Casanova and Monica Foster, wrote that “Thomas Hardy, like all Americans accused of crime, is presumed innocent,” and, they continued, “there are many aspects of what happened that are not at all what they seem at first blush.”
At press time, Hardy’s trial was scheduled for October 1, 2012, and it is far too early in the proceedings to predict an outcome. But it probably won’t be a cut-and-dried case. In ballistic tests, the pistol that Thomas Hardy allegedly used to shoot David Moore “slam-fired”—a malfunction that causes a gun to discharge a round without the trigger being pulled. Denise Robinson, a deputy prosecuting attorney, says the matter is “still under investigation.” Depending on how that investigation plays out, the malfunction could leave the defense room to argue that Hardy hadn’t intended to fire the gun as many times as it went off—or at all. But even Hardy’s lawyers, it seems, are saddened by David Moore’s fate. “There is one thing with which we will not disagree with the prosecutor,” they wrote. “Officer David Moore was a good police officer and an extraordinary human being whose life was taken from us far too soon.”
Sadly, none of this might have happened, if not for a simple administrative error. Hardy was arrested in 2010 on felony theft charges, while he was still on parole for an earlier theft conviction. Had Thomas Hardy’s parole officer performed a routine arrest check, as policy dictated, she likely would have requested that the parole board send him back to prison. Instead, on December 21, 2010—about a month before David Moore was shot—Thomas Hardy walked out of jail.
It’s a crisp, fall afternoon, and Lance and Cathy Lewis have come to visit Spencer and Jo Moore at their northside home. It is just around the block from where David used to live—his sister, Carol, moved into his house after he died, and his parents later bought a place nearby. Since their first meeting in May, the Lewises and Moores have continued to get together. It feels right to them, somehow. They share stories about their grandchildren. They tell jokes and make fun of one another. And they marvel at how much they have in common.
The Moores raised their family just a short distance from the southside home where the Lewises raised theirs. When Lance was David’s age, he was also a law-enforcement officer, with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. When Jo was in the hospital delivering David, Cathy was in the very same hospital, delivering her son Aaron. There is a lot to talk about.
They gather for lunch in the Moores’ kitchen and talk about Lance’s recovery. “He’s doing so well, it’s like having a new husband,” Cathy says. “He looks different. His color is different. I smile every day, just looking at him.” Her joy, she admits, is tempered by a kind of survivor’s guilt that her family’s blessing arose from another family’s heartbreak.
Lance says that before the transplant, he always felt that people were giving him disapproving looks, like when they’d see Cathy loading heavy groceries into the car, while he stood by watching. “I couldn’t help but think, all those people standing around were wondering, ‘Why in the world is he making her unload that car while he’s standing there like a lazy bum?’” he says.
Cathy once told Spencer that it used to be easy to find Lance when she needed him, because he was always on the couch. “Now she has to go to the front door, the back door, down the street, the park—because he’s out mowing the lawn, riding his bike, up on the roof,” Spencer says. “Now, she can’t keep up.” He jokes that when Lance is driving behind a car that runs a stop sign, he has a strange urge to pull it over.
Jo brags about how Lance recently finished a 12-mile bike ride. Sometimes when she looks at Lance, she beams, and her eyes well up. She likes to call the heart-shaped scars around Lance’s shoulder blades, from the incisions where doctors opened his body cavity, his “angel wings.”
After lunch, Spencer and Jo take Lance and Cathy on a walk through the neighborhood to show them a stone memorial to David that neighbors have placed in a front yard. They point out the house of two women, raising a son, who liked David coming over to spend time with their boy because he was a good male role model. Over there is the home of an older woman who called David frequently to tell him about goings-on in the neighborhood; having him nearby made her feel safe. Along the way, flags and other tributes to David dot house after house, yard after yard. He had only lived in the neighborhood for a few years, and somehow he seems to have known everyone.
On the way home, Spencer falls back to walk beside Lance.
“I’m 12 years older than Jo,” he says. “I always figured David would be there to take care of his mother when I am gone. When you have a son, you imagine what he’s going to accomplish. I saw David being in a high leadership position in the department some day. Now that he’s gone, it leaves a hole.”
Lance doesn’t say anything for a moment. His eyes redden a little, and he takes a deep breath—something he had not been able to do for a very long time.
For information about the Officer David S. Moore Foundation, visit www.davidsmoorefoundation.org.
Donations can be mailed to:
Officer David S. Moore Foundation
PO Box 39284
Indianapolis, IN 46239
An update from Lance Lewis
November 27, 2013
The three years since my double lung transplant have been amazing. For me at least, the transplant did not allow me to return to my old life…I never had this life. This is something completely new.
Cycling in Indiana, Kentucky and Montana, stair climbs in Indianapolis (35 stories) and Chicago (103 stories), walking along the Las Vegas strip in 117 degree weather, and zip lining over the Gallatin River in Montana. None of these things would have even been considered, let alone possible, without my transplant.
Although the relationship we have with my donor family is our only experience and seems normal to us, we are keenly aware that it is anything but normal. Many recipients attempt to contact their donor family with no response. I have been blessed with a donor family who encourages contact, and who have opened their hearts and lives to us without limitation. As a result, a whole new world of friends and relationships has blossomed.
We have had the opportunity to encourage other transplant patients through our local transplant support group and to speak to individuals and groups about the importance of organ donation. As a volunteer for the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization, I have spoken to such diverse groups as hospital executive committees, and third shift emergency room nurses. At one meeting, I was able to speak to some of the nurses who had cared for my donor in the ICU. They had no idea who I was until the end of my talk, and it was a very powerful moment.
No one knows where this journey will ultimately lead, but I am thrilled to be on the trip and have no regrets about the decision to pursue a transplant.
Here’s a disturbing number 60% . 60% of Americans are NOT organ donors. That means that only four out of every ten people is a donor and that’s why thousands of Americans die every year. And…more and more will die because the gap between available organs and those who need them grows daily. This isn’t happening because Americans don’t care. Polls show we overwhelmingly support donation. It is happening because we don’t see the urgency and don’t get around to signing up and the result is 20,000 perfectly transplantable organs are buried every year. Don’t take your organs to the grave when so many gravely ill people need them.
There are millions of other Lance Lewis’ in America. They may need other organs but they are all suffering and are all facing death. 20 people will died today because of the organ shortage. 20 more will die the next day…and the next day too. Save a life or maybe save many lives by becoming an organ/tissue donor right now. Up to 60 people can benefit from each donor so don’t hesitate a moment longer. Go to http://www.donate.life.net right now and sign up. It takes just seconds. Then, be sure to tell your family your wishes so there is no confusion when the time comes.
Give the gift of life. There is no nobler action you can take.
Bob Aronson is a 2007 heart transplant recipient who founded both Bob’s Newheart and Facebook’s Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI). The Newheart blog has 200 others posts that cover a wide range of subjects that may be of help to you or someone you love. We also invite you to visit and join OTI a group of well over 3,000 members who share experiences, help each other and provide invaluable information to make daily living a little bit easier.
Each day 19 people die because there are not enough transplantable human organs to fill the need. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) which coordinates all transplants in America maintains a list of people who need life-saving transplants. As of today, January 2, 2012 the numbers are:
Waiting list candidates 112,702
Transplants January – Sept. 2011 21,354
Donors January – Sept. 2011 10,558
Right now, as you read this a patient, maybe a child, is near death. She needs a heart but there won’t be one. As the electronic monitors beep and chirp, the family is devastated, inconsolable in the frustration over the lack of organ donors and the imminent death of their loved one. The best medical care in the world is at their fingertips but they are helpless without an organ donor. The patients vital signs are dropping more rapidly now, the Doctors aren’t holding out much hope.
Right now as you read this, another patient not too far away has already been declared brain dead as the result of an auto accident. He is surrounded by a grieving family. It is not known if the patient is or wanted to be an organ donor. The family is considering a request to donate his organs but the decision must be made soon and they don’t know what to do, their loved one never told them of his wishes. Through tears and indescribable grief they discuss, they argue and then decline. Both patients die.
Each year Americans bury or cremate more than 20,000 transplantable organs – 20.000. Surveys continually indicate that over 90 percent of Americans approve of organ donation but in one of the greatest mysteries ever, only 46 percent actually make the commitment to do so. This inaction, this procrastination is causing people to die, families to grieve and patients who are awaiting transplants to live their lives in absolute terror. People who are not organ donors are not evil, they are not bad, they just don’t understand that their lack of action causes terror among patients as great as that caused by the real terrorists of the world.
Most people who aren’t donors, “Just haven’t gotten around to it.” After all, there’s no rush for them. Organs are recovered after a person dies and most potential donors are in pretty good health. The problem is that the patients who need the organs are not in good health. Everyone who is on that UNOS list mentioned earlier, is dying. Without a transplant they will die. Period. End of story.
Well, let’s make the donation process really simple, so simple you can do it from home, your office, on your I-pad or Kindle in your doctor’s waiting room anywhere. You don’t even have to get up. Just go to www.donatelife.net and follow the instructions then tell your family what you have done. It only takes minutes. Then make very sure they clearly understand that you want to be an organ donor. “That means when I die I want the medical people to take as much of my tissue and as many of my organs as they need to help save or enhance the lives of others.” Those are my distinct wishes please respect them should the time come.
That’s the first step to saving lives by helping to increase the number of donors. The second step, just in case you like this cause and want to do more, is to spread the word to convince others to do the same. “So,” you say, “How do I do that, how do I spread the word?” Here are ten easy tips, I’m sure that if you think real hard you might be able to come up with ten more.
- 150 words is about a minute’s speaking time. Write out about 150 words on why organ donation is important to the donor…the donor and then post it everywhere you can think of on the internet.
- Call your local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) and volunteer to speak on behalf of donation.
- Buy the green “Donate life” wristband at www.donatelife.net and wear it every day. If someone admires it give it to them and ask them to wear it. What’s a few bucks to save some lives?
- Ask your pastor to give a sermon on organ donation…offer to help gather the information for him/her.
- Write a letter to the editor…actually send it to every editor you can think of.
- When some radio talk show host least expects it…call about the importance of organ donation
- Offer to speak to a local service club about donation/transplantation issues (Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions etc).
- Add a short note about organ donation to the signature of every email you send “Did you know that one organ/tissue donor can save or positively affect up to 60 lives?”
- Talk to a public school class about donation/transplantation
- Start a blog…it’s really easy. Just Google “free blog sites” and go for it.
You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at email@example.com. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love. Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart.” Just go to www.organti.org and click on the title. This video was produced to py romote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for it’s use. You’ll also find other useful information on this web site about other donation/transplantation issues.
We would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI) The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers and the more clout we have the more likely it is that we’ll be able to increase not only organ donation but the many alternatives that science and technology people are working on.