COLUMBUS (Dana Jay) — The victim of a fatal hit-and-run crash became an organ donor Wednesday after legal action by central Ohio’s organ procurement agency.
Lifeline of Ohio filed the suit in Franklin County Court against the parents of 21-year-old Elijah Smith and Ohio Health Corporation. Chief clinical executive Dorrie Dils said the lawsuit was the first-of-its-kind in Ohio.
Smith was critically injured while riding his bike in the early morning hours of July 3. He was taken to Ohio Health’s Grant Medical Center. The lawsuit states that on July 4, Smith’s physician declared him dead. A spokeswoman for Lifeline of Ohio said a ventilator kept Smith’s organs viable as the agency attempted to convince his family that he wanted them to be donated.
The lawsuit also maintains that because Smith was identified as an organ donor based on Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle records, and had not subsequently expressed wishes to the contrary, his body was legally available to Lifeline of Ohio for organ and tissue procurement.
After learning that Smith signed an organ donation card, his parents, Rodney and Pamela Smith, sent a handwritten letter to the hospital stating, “We do not want our son to die like this. We do not want our son to be an organ donor.”
The suit claims the letter and oral statements by Rodney and Pamela Smith prompted Ohio Health to prevent the removal of organs by Lifeline of Ohio without a court order. That order came at approximately 1 p.m. the day the suit was filed. Smith died hours later “We lost our boy. Against our wishes, they took my son and his organs. They told us we could have the body when they are [finished.]
They went to court behind my back,” Pamela Smith wrote in an email. An attorney for Lifeline of Ohio said the family did not have an attorney in court; counsel was present for Ohio Health. Dils said the lawsuit was heard quickly because time was of the essence and Smith’s decision at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles was legally binding.
The case, she said, should be a reminder to those who wish to donate their organs to tell their family of their wishes. “It’s been a very difficult decision [to file the lawsuit], but at the end of the day we have donors who make a decision to donate to respect, and we have patients waiting for an organ transplant to respect,” Dils said.
The family said the night before the suit was filed they still hoped Smith would recover. Columbus Police have identified a person of interest in the hit-and-run case, but no arrests have been made. SOURCE