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School Victim’s Organs Transplanted

December 3, 1997

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Only hours after 14-year-old Nichole Hadley was killed during a shooting rampage in a high school hallway, her heart and lungs were transplanted to help give two men the chance to live.

``What she wanted to do in life was help other people,″ said her father, Chuck Hadley. ``This is one way she can do this.″

Nichole died late Monday after a classmate allegedly opened fire on a prayer gathering in the lobby of Heath High School, shooting eight students. She and two of her friends were killed.

When doctors told Hadley and his wife, Gwen, that their daughter had no chance of recovery, the couple asked that her organs be donated. Her heart, lungs, pancreas, liver and kidneys were viable for transplant.

By Tuesday night, Nichole’s heart and lungs had been transplanted and both recipients were in serious but stable condition.

Tom Hereford IV, 42, of Jeffersonville, Ind., received Nichole’s lungs. Suffering from a genetic condition that causes severe emphysema, he had been able to walk only a few steps without the help of oxygen from a tank.

``We want to express our very deep thanks to the family that has made this gift available to our brother, because he would not have lived much longer,″ said Hereford’s brother, Paul, who suffers from the same condition.

``We understand that they’re in a period of great grief and it is very hard on them to reach out make the merciful decision that they did,″ he said.

A Kentucky man, whose family asked that his name not be released, received Nichole’s heart. The other organs were to be used outside the Louisville area.

A third brother of Hereford, Mark, also has Alpha 1 Deficiency. Paul Hereford is receiving therapy and Mark’s condition is not as serious, said their father, Thomas Hereford III.

Hereford, a medical technician, had waited since May for donor lungs and was moved to the top of a computer list in August. Hereford was in intensive care and didn’t yet know whose lungs he had received.

Dr. Robert Dowling, who was the chief surgeon during the 6 1/2 hour transplant at Jewish Hospital, said Wednesday the long-term prognosis for Hereford was excellent.

``He’s doing great,″ he said.

Nichole’s parents are ``the real heroes of the whole process,″ Dowling said.

``As a parent, I can’t even imagine losing a child, and through that incredible time of grieving to rise up and do something like that is phenomenal,″ he said. ``They’ve lost a child, but at least they’ve been able to save a number of lives by donating her organs.″

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