The head of the non-profit group coordinating organ donation for most of New Jersey hopes the story of Mikey Lavecchia doesn't taint the public's view of organ donation.
"I hope the public understands that this is not an issue that was created by the need to have an organ donation," Joe Roth, president and CEO of NJ Sharing Network, said.
Michael "Mikey" Lavecchia, 13, was pronounced dead Sunday by doctors at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Paterson. He was in a car that crashed into a truck Saturday on the side of Route 80 eastbound in Wayne, killing the other two occupants, including his father, Michael Jr.
Laureen Lavecchia chose to donate Mikey's organs. As she kept a vigil over him Sunday night while waiting for a recipient, she saw him move his legs, shoulders and arms.
A review of scientific literature on movements after brain death, published in March 2009 in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, found movements were present in as many as half of heart-beating cadavers, though it's not clear why. The authors concluded such movements "do not invalidate" a brain death diagnosis.
Laureen has since moved Mikey, who recently moved with his father from Brentwood, N.Y., to East Stroudsburg, Pa., to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. She said Thursday there had been no change in Mikey's condition...
"The staff at our children's hospital is vastly experienced in providing clinical care in this area and remains committed to providing any assistance to the Lavecchia family in seeking answers to any unanswered questions. Our desire is to be supportive of the family as they continue to deal with this tragedy."
Laureen has said she has not ruled out donating Mikey's organs, but is focused on his recovery.
Roth, who said NJ Sharing Network has helped coordinate more than 400 transplants, said the Lavecchias' situation is a first.
"We've not had situations like this in my experience," he said.
NJ Sharing Network doesn't become involved with patients until they're pronounced dead, Roth said. Families sometimes back out after that point, but usually because not every family member agrees with the decision to donate.
The need for organ transplants is huge, Roth said.
"Right now, just New Jersey patients, there are over 5,000 people waiting for transplants," he said...
"My heart goes out to her," Kuzminksi said of Laureen Lavecchia. "I pray there is a better outcome than what it looks like there's going to be. I hope that her decision to donate his organs will still be the same decision. To have something come positive come out of a tragedy was a very healing experience for our family."