A Dying Man's Wish To Donate His Organs Gets Complicated

NPR | Southern California Public Radio | Karen Shakerdge

Dave Adox, right, and his husband Danni Michaeli at their home in South Orange, N.J., in the fall of 2014. Adox was diagnosed with ALS at age 42 and became almost totally paralyzed within six months. He died last May.Courtesy of Evan Bachner
At 44 years old, Dave Adox was facing the end of his two-year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He needed a ventilator to breathe and couldn't move any part of his body, except his eyes. Once he started to struggle with his eyes — his only way to communicate — Adox decided it was time to die.

He wanted to donate his organs, to give other people a chance for a longer life. To do this, he'd need to be in a hospital when he went off the ventilator.

"I was always interested in organ donation and had checked the box on my license," Adox said last spring at his home in South Orange, N.J., through a machine that spoke for him. He laboriously spelled out these words, letter by letter, by focusing his eyes on a tablet. Adox had spent a career with words that now came slowly — he was a freelance reporter, including for public radio, then went on to work in advertising.

"When I got diagnosed with ALS at 42, and the disease paralyzed my entire body in six months, I definitely developed a greater appreciation of the value of the working human body," he said. Continue reading