Anthony Stinson’s short life has ended, but the 13-year-old Shirley boy’s organs donated Wednesday will extend or save the lives of others he never had the chance to meet — a lasting legacy of a young life lost.
He was taken off a ventilator that helped preserve his organs — four days after a Suffolk police cruiser heading to a call struck him as he crossed William Floyd Parkway in Shirley. The standout athlete and eighth grader at William Paca Middle School suffered a severe head injury and was declared brain dead Monday.
Amid their grief, Anthony’s family started efforts to have his organs removed and came in contact with LiveOnNY, a Long Island City-based nonprofit that matches donors with the federal organ transplant list. His mother said she hoped it would serve as a reminder that from tragedy can come something good — help for those in need.
“Children will get healthier and improve their living and life span, thanks to Anthony,” she said Wednesday. “I want this to be an inspiration for the community to think of in the event of the loss of lives.”
WHAT TO KNOW
- Anthony Stinson’s organs were removed for donation Wednesday at Stony Brook University Hospital.
- The 13-year-old was declared brain dead Monday after being hit by a Suffolk police cruiser Saturday night in Shirley and suffering a severe head injury.
- Doctors with LiveOnNY, a Long Island City-based nonprofit that matches donors with the federal organ transplant list, performed the procedure.
Anthony was struck by the police cruiser just before 8 p.m. Saturday while riding his bike across William Floyd Parkway, at the end of his street on Adobe Drive. The police officer was driving with lights and sirens on through the intersection with a green light at the time, police said. The officer, who has not been identified, was responding to an elderly patient’s emergency, police said. The officer has remained on full duty during the investigation, which includes determining how fast the cruiser was traveling.
Police had no updates on the status of the investigation Wednesday.
At the hospital Wednesday night, Anthony’s mother, his many friends from school and the neighborhood, along with doctors and nurses, lined a hallway as the teenager’s body was wheeled into an operating room for organ removal. An “honor walk,” they called it.
Claudia Stinson wore her son’s Cincinnati Bengals football jersey and a necklace with the team’s logo Anthony wore the night he was hit. The Bengals were his favorite team.
“I told my son I was so proud of him and his legacy. I said, ‘Anthony, I’m so proud of you helping other kids, your legacy is leaving this earth. I have to let you go free, go fly and watch over all your friends,” she said. “At this point we want Anthony to rest in peace and get his sacraments and rise to St. Peter, who I know is waiting for him in the heavens.”
Friends pay tribute
Dozens of Anthony’s former teammates from his multiple youth soccer clubs in Brentwood, Islip and Farmingville joined the honor walk.
Randy Guevara, 12, of Bay Shore, came with his grandmother.
He wore a soccer jersey with “Anthony” written across the front.
“Seeing him for the last time, I didn’t expect it and knowing he’s not going to come back,” Guevara said. “Nobody was expecting it to happen and I didn’t get to say goodbye for the last time.”
When Anthony was 7 and playing soccer in Brentwood, Alex Torres coached him. It began a lasting friendship between Torres and the Stinson family that included spending holidays and birthdays together.
“We’re here to say goodbye to one of my players and to remember him all my life. He was a good player,” Torres said. “Me and Anthony were good friends. When he was ready to go to the next level, I said good luck to him. I never believed what happened to him. I can’t believe it.”
The surgery and organ donation was performed by doctors with LiveOnNY, an organization that matches donors with the federal transplant list, said Leonard Achan, president and CEO.
Gift of life
“This is a tragic story and an unbelievable decision to give back the gift of life,” Achan said.
The hallway ceremony honored “the path and voyage to Anthony becoming an organ donor,” Achan said.
“It’s literally that honorable moment of life that he’s giving to other people right now,” Achan said. “It is a very solemn, Old World honor that is happening in a modern day state.”
LiveOnNY staff had spent the past two days lining up potential recipients nationwide for Anthony’s organs, Achan said.
The organs can go to both children and adults, but will be determined based on need and blood type, Achan said.
Depending on the availability, the heart and lungs must be transplanted in between six to eight hours, the liver between 12 to 18 hours and the kidneys between 24 to 48 hours, Achan said.
“They’re racing the clock and the weather to get [organs] to their recipients who are waiting for the second chance at life that Anthony’s going to give them,” Achan said.
The organs can help between five to eight people and have already been tentatively matched with recipients at waiting transplant centers, according to Achan.
Claudia Stinson said she spent every day and night after her son was injured at his hospital bedside. She had one last message from mother to son before a final goodbye.
“I said, ‘you’re a wonderful boy and you’ve got to go fly to help other kids. Some of you is staying here and I’m so proud of you. This is the end of a journey for Anthony and the beginning of a new one for others.”