Organ recipients meet family of Clifton shooting victim

(AP) - James O'Hea was told privately his failingheart gave him little more than a month to live. Terence Begley'sdiabetes meant more years of dialysis and deteriorating kidneys. That was before a tragic

News 12 Staff

Feb 9, 2009, 5:09 PM

Updated 5,642 days ago

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(AP) - James O'Hea was told privately his failingheart gave him little more than a month to live. Terence Begley'sdiabetes meant more years of dialysis and deteriorating kidneys.
That was before a tragic event - the shooting of three people ina church last November - turned life-affirming through the quickresponse of one victim's family.
O'Hea, Begley and three other people received organs from25-year-old Dennis John Mallosseril. He wasshot and killed Nov. 23 as he tried to break up an argument betweena fellow church member and her estranged husband, according topolice and witnesses.
O'Hea, Begley and the other recipients - Malta Hameed, 40, ofClifton; Migdalia Torres, 52, of Cleveland, Ohio, and JohnMuscarella, 22, of East Newark - attended a memorial service forMallosseril on Sunday at the St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church, where the shooting happened.
Before the service, the recipients had an emotional meeting withMallosseril's parents.
"They bent down and listened to my heart," O'Hea said. "I hadtears rolling down my cheeks."
Torres, who has suffered for 25 years from lupus that hasaffected her kidneys, recalled jumping out of bed at 6 a.m. on themorning after the shooting when she received a call that an organmatch had been found. Like the others, she admitted having mixedfeelings about the events that led to her transplant.
"I knew someone would have to die for me to get a kidney, but Ididn't expect it to be the way he died," she said Sunday.
For the 57-year-old O'Hea, who was suffering congestive heartfailure, the donation and transplant literally meant a new lease onlife.
"I was weak and basically bedridden," O'Hea said last week."My cardiologist agreed that if I hadn't gotten a heart, I wouldnot have made it through December."
Begley, who no longer requires the thrice-weekly dialysistreatments he has endured for the last four years, receivedMallosseril's kidney and pancreas. Hameed received a liver andTorres received a kidney.
Muscarella suffers from cystic fibrosis and had been given aless than 50 percent chance of surviving more than two years had henot received both of Mallosseril's lungs.
Mallosseril died of his wounds on the night of the shooting, twodays before he would have turned 26. His family decided to donatehis organs.
"It's so totally altruistic," said William Reitsma, directorof clinical services for NJ Sharing Network, the nonprofitorganization that coordinated the recovery of Mallosseril's organs."It's not like this family knew these people, these are peoplethey've never met. It's not like you're doing this for a friend ora cousin, it's something totally altruistic, and our communityisn't too given to doing this anymore."
According to Donate Life New Jersey, more than 100,000 peoplenationwide are waiting for transplants, and an average of 18 peopleeach day die waiting.
"We are so happy we did it," Mallosseril's mother, Aley JohnMallosseril, said Sunday. "We saw how we could help other peopleto live, and there is no way to describe how happy we are to seethem all, their spirit. I want people to learn something from this;Dennis' life was lost but I want some good to come of it."
The woman Mallosseril tried to help also was killed, and hercousin was seriously wounded. Joseph Pallipurath has pleaded notguilty to murder and other charges and remains in jail.
Chief Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor John Latoracca saidthe case will be presented to a grand jury in the next few months.
Manpleads not guilty in fatal Clifton church shootingCliftonchurch shooting suspect captured in GeorgiaSecondvictim dies from Clifton church shootingGunmankills 1, severely injures 2 inside Clifton church


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