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17-year-old Jacksonville Car Crash Victim's Organs Donated to Save Six Lives

12:37 PM, Nov 29, 2010   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On Aug. 2, 2007, Jessica Moore lost half of her heart.

"I could feel her hurt. I could feel her happiness. I could feel all of it."

No one had to tell her when her twin sister got in a car accident, or that Haley, who was 17-years and 2-months old, wouldn't wake up from the coma. She knew.

"She had the brightest green eyes. Brighter than anything else. I just looked in her eyes and I knew that light wasn't there."

"She had that red hair. So she had a red hair attitude," said Moore's father, Lee.

Three years later, that fire for life, is what her family misses most.

"She could be a friend to anybody," Moore's mother, Vicki Moore said.

"A wonderful personality. You know, a big heart. She would come to the aide of her friends in a very fast moment," said Moore's dad.

Lee and Vicki Moore remember how Haley's generosity also tested them. Before Haley got her driver's license, she'd told them she wanted to be an organ donor, but never officially registered.

Much too soon, her parent had to decide. "It was so hard. It was so hard," Vicki Moore remembered, "because I didn't want to let go."

As a mother, if she couldn't have her daughter, Vicki didn't want anyone to have her. But the Moores knew it was the last chance to see a wish of Haley's fulfilled.

"I knew she wanted this," Lee Moore explained.

They told the doctors on one condition.

"I said, find six people on a table right now that won't live unless they have my baby's organs, and I'll do it," Vicki Moore said.

Jessica lost half her heart on Aug. 2, and three days later, Haley gave it to someone else.

The list reaches every corner of America. Right now, more than 100,000 people are sick enough to be on the organ transplant list; most never make it off that list.

Haley's vital organs were perfect. LifeQuest organ recovery services matched her with six people across the East Coast.
Her lungs went to North Carolina. Her heart went to Virginia.  Her pancreas to New Jersey, and her liver to South Florida. One kidney went to Mississippi and the other went to Georgia.

Haley's family only knows a little about the people who received her organs.  They hope to know more.

*****

"You were a little peanut when you were born. 4 pounds. Now look at ya," Karen Chaffey cooed at her son.

This moment was once just a dream for Chaffey. Since her teens, diabetes and kidney failure made it almost impossible to take care of her own health, let alone a child's.

"The doctor had gotten some test results back and he told me, don't get pregnant. You will die if you get pregnant," Chaffey explained.

She needed a new pancreas, and she was told she'd get one in two months. She ended up waiting two years.

"I knew (the donor) was a 17-year-old that died in a car accident. That's what I was told. All I knew."

With Haley's gift, Karen now has two reasons to live. "I just think about how her life was cut short," said Chaffey, "but she helped me."

"Her family is very close and glad to have her home," Vicki Moore said of Chaffey. 

*****

"I kept thinking, my friend was going to work out and the Mayo (Clinic) was going to work out."

Lisa Cauley has always been a hopeful person, but when doctors told her she'd inherited a disease that left her facing a lifetime of dialysis, hoping wasn't easy.

"I was on the list, but there too, they said it would be a long wait.  Because of the antibodies I had, they said it would be a hard match."

Doctors said it would take an exceptional donor.  They found one. With Haley's kidney, every moment Cauley has is special.

"You look at everything differently. Stuff you took for granted before, you appreciate it more."

Vicki Moore described Cauley as "very grateful for her second chance at life. Free from dialysis machines. Thanks to your generous gift."

*****

"I was raised in the country, in east North Carolina."

Ted Perry grew up a southern farm boy, but found his calling as a registered nurse. So when he developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease later in life, he knew what he was facing.

"I had maybe five or six months left if they could not get lungs for me."

Sixty-three was once considered too old for a lung transplant, but Ted and his wife relocated anyway, to be close enough to the hospital, just in case they got the call.

"Said it would take a miracle. Well, a miracle happened."

Even a miracle didn't come easily. His body rejected his new organs, and for eight days, he hung on life support until finally, Haley's lungs settled in.

"When the lady who told me, said, she was 17-years-old, I just broke down. Cause here I was, 63 at the time, and her 17, and not even started her life. I'd lived a good long life."

Perry has lived three years longer than anyone expected. So every day, he lives for Haley.

"I make plans every day. When the sun comes up in the morning and I see it getting light. I'm making plans of something.  I have an obligation to her to say, every day, thank you. Do everything I can to make sure these lungs will be going for a while cause it's a part of her."

"He can breathe easily and is not suffering from illness," said Vicki Moore. "He's returned home to spend time with his wife and family and is thankful for your generous gift."

*****

Every step.

"This is us running together."

Every breath.

"I'd have like a deep breath and think, oh my gosh."

Every beat.

"You have another person's heart in you."

Haley Moore is on Anne Kirchmier's mind.

"I feel like I've lived through this for a reason. Because I had so many times I could have been taken," Kirchmier relayed.

Cardiomyopathy was slowly sucking the life out of Kirchmier.  She's a mom and a marathon runner who has never been OK with the idea of defeat.

"You're thinking, 'I'm so sick. I'm not going to make it, and my kids are growing up and they're not gonna have their mother.'"

For years, treatments slowed the inevitable, until eventually only one option was left.  It wasn't the surgery, or the risk that tugged at Kirchmier. It was the loss she knew would have to happen in order for her to live.

"I look at her picture and I just sit by myself and cry and wonder how I would be the person at that time on that list...that she would be able to give it to me."

Pain and happiness, for Kirchmier, is all about heart.

"It is her spirit that keeps me going.  I feel like she has a great deal of spirit."

Haley is her cause and her reason. Kirchmier carried her to the World Transplant Games. Together, they not only won three medals, they broke three world records.

"Saying, Haley, don't let me give up. I have to give this medal to your mom."

Vicki Moore now says the medal is "worth more than anything I have in this house."

The Moores have never doubted the decision they made to fulfill Haley's request.

"To know that in this day and time that your child would have that kind of compassion for others.  It's nothing but pride,"  Lee Moore said.

Jessica Moore dreams about meeting the people now taking care of her twin. "I've sat down and tried to write them a few times, but I can't hold my composure," she said.

"Pretty sure I'd be a big ball of tears. Tell them how happy I am that my sister could give them that gift."

Lisa Cauley said she would thank the Moore family if she met them. "Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate every day what your daughter, sister has given to me," said Cauley.

Anne Kirchmier said, "I would tell her that I'm taking care of Haley's heart."

Haley's choice saved six people. It's now helping one family to heal.

"Don't feel bad for me, because I feel great for you," said Vicki Moore. "And I am so happy that my daughter saved six lives."

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