Billy’s heart went to Suffern, NY man who needed a heart transplant; Billy’s family listens to his heartbeat
NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Thanksgiving came early for heart recipient Richard Grehl–who got to say thank you to the family of the New York City firefighter whose death last December rescued Grehl from certain death.
Grehl, a 63-year-old grandfather of three from Suffern, New York, had wondered throughout his recovery about the generous soul who gave him this gift of life after his third heart attack had severely damaged his own heart and needed a heart transplant to save his life.
A graduate of Manhattan College with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Grehl was a career procurement executive for organizations including the Indian Point nuclear plant, Con Edison, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. He retired in May 2022.
“Whoever you are, I am grateful,” Grehl thought to himself every day, agonizing over the fact that someone had to die in order for him to live. In those long months of recovering, he hoped to one day meet and thank his donor’s family in person.
On Thursday, he got his wish, when he and his family met the family of New York City Firefighter Billy Moon, at LiveOnNY’s offices in New York City. The federally-designated organ procurement organization – which advocates for organ donors, their families and oversees and coordinates the complex logistics to make the gift of life possible in the greater NY area – hosted the emotional meeting between the two families. Photos and video of the meeting can be found here.
“This remarkable story of heroism and hope serves as a poignant reminder of the profound legacy of organ donation left by Firefighter Moon, who, even in his untimely passing, continues to make a difference and save lives,” said Leonard Achan, President and CEO of LiveOnNY.
Moon left behind his wife, Kristina, and their two young children, Brianne, 11, and Colin, 9.
On December 12, 2022, Moon, 47, was in the middle of a routine skyscraper rescue training in Brooklyn when he fell 20 feet sustaining a life-threatening injury that took his life. After being rushed to Kings County Hospital where doctors did all they could to save the firefighter’s life, Moon succumbed to his injuries and was transferred to LiveOnNY’s Donor Care Unit at NYU Langone Health. Overwhelmed with grief, Moon’s wife, Kristina, knew her husband, a registered organ donor in New York State, wanted to help as many people as possible and was a vocal supporter of organ donation.
Moon ultimately saved the lives of five individuals between the ages of 50 and 70-years-old who were in need of heart, lung, liver, and kidney transplants. Among those whose lives were also forever changed by Moon’s selfless act of courage were two retired FDNY firefighters. Lt. Terrence Jordan received both his lungs and Capt. Patrick Reynolds got his liver. Two other recipients each received a kidney.
“Billy was a big personality and had a passion for life; especially when it came to what he believed in, including organ donation. I believe that passion came from his heart, and to hear it beat again brings both joy and tears,” said Kristina Moon. “We are grateful and in awe of Rich’s health and decision to be a part of today. Billy was always our hero at home, and these moments continue to confirm that he is a hero to others as well. He is our forever hero.”
Grehl, accompanied by friends, his son and 94-year-old dad, was overcome with emotion as the Moon children listened to their dad’s heart inside his chest.
“I have been looking forward to this day for almost a year, wanting to express my condolences for this family’s loss and thank them for this beautiful gift,” said Grehl. “I wake up every day grateful to be alive. Not a day went by where I haven’t thought of my donor and his family. Now I know his name.”
For more information on lifesaving organ donation, please visit www.liveonny.org.
LiveOnNY is a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to saving lives, providing comfort, and strengthening legacies through organ, eye, and tissue donation. The OPO, which was established in 1978, serves a culturally and ethnically diverse population of 13 million residents in New York City, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. Working closely with transplant centers and hospitals, LiveOnNY coordinates organ, eye, and tissue donation for transplant, educates the public and healthcare professionals about donation and transplantation, and promotes the importance of signing up on the New York State Donate Life Registry. LiveOnNY works closely with 11 transplant centers, nearly 100 hospitals, and several tissue and eye banks. LiveOnNY is a member of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which oversees the organ transplant waiting list in the U.S. For more information, please visit LiveOnNY.org.
Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/a-heartfelt-first-meeting-as-fdny-firefighter-billy-moons-wife-and-children-meet-recipient-of-billy-moons-heart-almost-one-year-after-the-firefighter-became-a-hero-again-by-donating-his-organs-to-save-five-lives-301984757.html
Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com