David Morales of El Sobrante owes his life to the late Antwan Moore of Oakdale, who died suddenly three years ago. Desperately ill, Morales got his liver and a new lease on life because Moore had marked his driver’s license card with a dot donating his organs.
Helping Moore family members last Wednesday with their annual fundraiser for their son’s Oakdale High School memorial scholarship — putting on the event in conjunction with the final Riverbank Farmers Market of the summer season — Morales recalled he was literally on his deathbed in the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center of a burst appendix and liver complications when he learned doctors had found a replacement organ for him.
“I’d had appendicitis at 52. It burst before they could operate. My liver shut down. The doctors told me they could keep me alive only two weeks without a replacement organ. They found one, Antwan’s, with nine days to go.
“Does it work? Well, I’m still standing here alive and upright, aren’t I?” he said at the Riverbank Community Center event.
It’s important for people to donate their body parts upon death, he said — and blood, too. He received nine blood transfusions after the surgery.
At any one time, there are about 98,000 people in the United States, 14,000 of them in their teen years or younger, waiting for organ transplants. But it is difficult to find a suitable organ.
“It’s not only a matter of genes. They have to be the right size too,” he said.
The owner of a dental laboratory, doing dental implants at the time, he sold his business from his hospital bed and is now retired.
He does volunteer work, visiting groups of patients needing transplants to calm their fears and comfort and reassure them with the story of his own experience.
Antwan Dallas Dupree Moore, whose liver gave Morales another chance at life, was 37 when he died suddenly of a blood clot. A standout athlete at Oakdale High School, he became a firefighter in Modesto and served 17 years in that job.
“He liked sports. He loved to fish. Anything outdoors he’d do,” said his mother Dorothy Moore.
Antwan’s family attended the Sept. 1 Riverbank Farmers Market in force for Antwan’s dad Bill and numerous relatives to sell the tasty barbecue meals that “Wild Bill” has served there for three years and raise funds for the scholarship with a silent auction of donated items.
The auctioned items included an autographed Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals jersey, another by Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and a poster autographed by pro footballer Eric Dickerson.
Morales never met Antwan Moore but by a strange quirk of fate came close to it.
Seeking to buy a home in the Modesto area several years before their lives crossed, Morales and his wife stopped to ask directions at the very fire station where Moore worked, although he was not there at the time.
“Funny thing,” he said. “We never bought that house anyway and continued to reside in the Bay Area. But on that day I came close to the man whose donated liver was later to save my life.”