Katie and Melanie Moore

For months Michael, Melanie and Katie Moore knew that Friday, June 2, 2006, was going to be a special day. June 2 was the date for Katie's dance recital.

Katie Moore

Katie Moore

She had been taking dance for several years and for the first time had invited a few special friends to watch her perform. Katie, 17, had just completed her sophomore year at St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge, La.

Both Michael and Melanie, divorced after 8 years of marriage, always attended every school function, dance and piano recital for Katie and their younger daughter, Lauren. Both had remarried and divorced - Michael even had another daughter, Sarah. In the spring of 2006 the two began to date again.

Melanie and Michael were together at the Baton Rouge River Center when Katie’s first dance number began. They looked and looked but couldn’t spot their daughter. They knew immediately that something was wrong.

That "special day” turned out to be the most devastating the Moores would ever experience.

Katie left for the River Center early so she could get there in time to adjust her makeup and change into her costume. Her parents followed later.

On Perkins Road, less than two miles from her house, a car cut right in front of Katie. When she put on her brakes to avoid hitting the vehicle, her car spun around and she was hit by an SUV on one side and an Audi on the other.

Law enforcement officers investigating the accident believe Katie died instantly. She was taken to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and put on life support.

Meanwhile, Melanie and Michael called the Baton Rouge City Police and found that there had indeed been an automobile accident and that the injured were taken to Our Lady of the Lake. They immediately left for the hospital and found that Katie had been in that accident and was in the emergency room.

When the two, waiting in the CCU (Critical Care Unit) Waiting Room, saw a chaplain walk toward them with the emergency room physician they knew something was very wrong. Their daughter was going to die.

Hospital personnel, realizing the severity of Katie’s condition, checked her driver’s license and saw she was an organ donor. They then called LOPA (Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency) which sent a representative to consult with Melanie and Michael before beginning a search for a match for Katie’s organs.

Family members gathered in the waiting room just a few hours after the accident. and remained there the following day, June 3, the day Michael and Melanie list as the date for Katie’s death - the date that two neurologists declared her brain dead.

The vigil for family members continued until Sunday, June 4, when life support was removed and Katie was taken to surgery and her organs were recovered for transplant. Little did they know that they would be back in this same waiting room dealing once again with LOPA personnel in less than 10 months but that’s another story.

Melanie Moore

Melanie Moore

In the days and weeks following Katie’s death Melanie and Michael were together constantly - from the funeral home and memorial service to insurance and law offices.

Michael also helped Melanie remodel her house which had been damaged by a small fire in February 2006. Together they saw grief counselors with their daughter, Lauren. As they continued to see each other, they soon realized that they were still in love. They were re-married Sept. 23, 2006.

Following their marriage the grief counselors suggested that they move into another house if at all possible. They found their dream house in a south Baton Rouge subdivision and both moved out of their respective homes the Christmas week. The Moore family loved their new home and settled in quickly. The house was nearer to jobs, schools and family and suited the Moores perfectly.

All went well until Saturday morning, March 24, 2007 when Melanie had a seizure soon after awakening. A second seizure followed minutes later. Michael called EMS and the two of them were at Our Lady of the Lake within an hour. A CAT scan showed Melanie had a ruptured brain aneurysm. Neurosurgeons recommended this procedure called coiling. A surgeon would insert a tiny platinum coil through her groin to the site of the rupture between her eyes, filling the rupture with platinum wire and cutting it off from the rest of the brain. They assured the family that the procedure was 95 percent successful and said that Our Lady of the Lake did more of these surgeries than any hospital in the state of Louisiana.

Family members agreed. Surgery began and 6 and was finished about 11:30 p.m. The doctors assured the family that the surgery was successful and felt Melanie would recover. By 2 the next morning Melanie took a turn for the worse. At about 3:30 a.m. when Michael realized that death was imminent, he told the hospital to call LOPA. From past experience he knew that Melanie would want to donate her organs. Melanie was brain dead by noon.

Family members began yet another vigil while LOPA personnel searched for matches for Melanie’s organs. A 65-year old single man from Alabama, a retired auto dealer who had been on the transplant waiting list for 11 months, received Melanie’s right kidney. Her left kidney and liver went to a 65-year-old woman from Mississippi, a nursing assistant and the mother of one child. She had been on the transplant waiting list for one month.

A 52-year old married father of two from Mississippi received Melanie’s heart after a seven-month wait on the transplant list. Melanie’s lungs were transplanted into a 39-year-old single man from Missouri who had been on the transplant waiting list for four months.
LOPA reports that all four are doing well. Some have even been able to return to their jobs. Ella, who received Katie’s liver and left kidney, and Andrea, who received her right kidney and pancreas, are still doing well a year later.

LOPA also recovered bone, tendon and tissue from Katie and Melanie which will be used to treat victims of trauma and debilitating disease and to aid various research projects. Their corneas were sent to eye banks giving others the precious gift of sight.

One family member recalls what Melanie said after Katie’s death: "Katie’s life was not in vain and Katie’s death was not in vain.” She also recalls Melanie saying that the one thing which helped her through her grief was the knowledge that Katie’s organs were giving life back to others.

Little did she know that she herself would have the opportunity to do the same in less than 10 months.