Shortly after FDNY firefighter William P. Moon, of Islip, lost his life in a training accident last month, retired FDNY Capt. Patrick Reynolds got a phone call, and another chance at living.
Moon, 47, died after falling 20 feet while preparing for a training drill at his Brooklyn firehouse Dec. 12.
Reynolds, 63, of East Northport, had been waiting for a liver transplant for the past year after being diagnosed with a genetic end-stage liver disease.
A week after Moon's death, Reynolds got a phone call that a liver was available, which he later learned came from Moon.
What to know
- Retired FDNY Capt. Patrick Reynolds, received the liver of FDNY firefighter William P. Moon, of Islip, who died last month in a training accident.
- Reynolds, 63, of East Northport had been waiting for a liver transplant for the past year after being diagnosed with a genetic end-stage liver disease.
- “Billy moon lives on in someone like me and I hope that can offer solace to the Moon family," Reynolds said.
"It changed my life. The way an organ donation changes lives can’t be measured," he said.
“For me, it’s an overwhelming thing. It’s an altruistic way to receive a donor. It’s tragic when an organ donation occurs and I’m forever grateful,” Reynolds said. “Billy Moon lives on in someone like me and I hope that can offer solace to the Moon family.”
Donating for others
Moon's wife, Kristina Moon, told probationary firefighters at the Fire Academy on Randalls Island on Tuesday morning how her husband donated his organs to five people on the transplant waiting list.
"A month ago, my family's world was forever changed. … It was evident that he would not recover from his injuries. It was and still is devastating," Kristina Moon said. "I was about to lose my husband and my kids were about to lose their father."
Along with the donation to Reynolds, Moon's lungs went to retired FDNY Lt. Terrance Jordan of Floral Park. They are both 9/11 first responders. His heart and kidneys went to three people out of state.
The donations were delivered anonymously, but the Uniformed Fire Officers Association confirmed Reynolds received the liver.
"Capt. Reynolds has spent his entire career protecting the men and women of the FDNY and the citizens of New York City," union president Lt. James McCarthy said. "Pat can continue his life of service because of an amazing act of selflessness by Billy Moon and his family."
Kristina Moon said she had the unimaginable conversations with her husband about donating his organs if something were to happen on the job. He was adamant that she, too, sign up to be an organ donor.
"We talked about what no one here wants to talk about," Moon said. "Nobody wants to talk about their life ending, their final wishes, or any other tragic what else that may occur."
FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh noted Moon was the fourth firefighter the department lost last year, but said his gift to others was a reminder to check the organ donor box on your driver’s license.
“It has been an incredibly rough year for the fire department. Losing one member is tragic, but to lose four in the line of duty in one year is just sort of unspeakable, and leaves a mark on us,” Kavanagh said.
Commitment to life
“But I would say, what I know gets us through is the community and the family and the friendship and that commitment to life carrying on," she said. "I can't think of a more incredible commitment that Billy made and literally his life carries on today that his organs are working for other people right now helping them to stay alive.”
Since Moon's Dec. 29 funeral, his wife, who works as an elementary school assistant principal, has become an advocate for organ donation and the long shot odds those waiting on a transplant list face.
She said one person every 10 minutes is added to the national transplant list and 17 people die daily waiting for a transplant. More than 105,000 people are now on the transplant waiting list in the United States, and only three in 1,000 people will die in a way that allows them to donate, she said.
The FDNY academy partnered with the New York Blood Center and the Be the Match bone marrow registry for fire cadets to donate blood and bone marrow while the state faces a critical need.
"God willing you will never be in a situation where you're faced with having to donate organs. But if you are, know that we are continuing a promise to do everything we can to save lives, even after we are gone," Kavanagh told the cadets.