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Heroes for a child

June 10, 1997

How far would you be willing to go to save a child's life? Before you answer, read the following story:

Jordy Carper, a 10-year-old boy from Hedgesville, W.Va. has cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease which allows mucus to clog the lungs, which are then more susceptible to infection.

Last month, Jordy was checked into Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles, where doctors tried to overcome his body's resistance to antibiotics so the boy could receive a partial lung transplant with tissue donated by his mother and grandmother.

However, both have been ruled out as donors, because the boy's mother is developing asthma and his grandmother is a smoker.

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But that isn't the child's last chance, because two donors have come forward to offer parts of their own lungs to save the child.

One is Vicki Koher, a 40-year-old Ohio woman who met the Carpers once while visiting friends in Charleston. Koher told The Associated Press that she was single, healthy and that if by going through "a little pain" she could help Jordy, she'd do it.

The other donor is Larry Hoerner, Jordy's guidance counselor at Tuscarora Elementary School in Martinsburg for the past several years. Hoerner told the AP reporter that he was "scared as hell" about the operation, but believed that the boy would die without the organ donation.

Both donors would give up one lobe of their lungs, reducing lung capacity by 20 percent. That would still leave the lungs at 80 percent capacity, but this is major surgery, expected to take up to three hours. Without it, however, doctors have told Jordy's family that the boy probably has no more than a year to live.

We recount this story because the Hollywood image of a hero is of someone who takes action in a split second, and who never doubts the happy ending to come. These two real-life heroes have had plenty of time to consider the long-term consequences of their donations on their own health, and yet they're still willing to act. Their quiet heroism merits a salute from everyone in the Tri-State area.

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