As the new year begins we remember Ashley Owens Quinter, who received the lungs of Paco Rodriguez, and breathed through them - with gratitude and exuberance - before she passed away on December 8, at age 24.
Rodriguez was the boxer who died in November 2009, from injuries in the ring, so that others might live, through his organ donations. Ashley lived a bit more than two years with Rodriguez’ lungs.
Vin Cannamela, who co-produced the piece on Rodriguez last spring, attended the memorial service for Ashley, in Birdsboro, Pa., on Dec. 18.
The chaplain who presided over her wedding last summer, to high school beau Jesse Quinter, recalled that joyous event:
“At one point she turned to Jesse and said, ‘If I died today I would be happy’.”
Three other recipients of Paco’s organs attended - Alexis Sloan (heart), Meghan Kingsley (liver) and Victoria Davis (kidney, pancreas). The four women had formed a “sisterhood” after they traveled to Chicago last spring, at E:60’s behest, to meet Paco’s family.
Victoria’s husband, Stuart, spoke on behalf of the recipients, and talked about Ashley’s kindness.
“It is said that every time a bell rings an angel gets her wings, well, Ashley was an angel on earth,” he said.
Attendees received a Mass card, with a photo of Ashley and four hearts, which said, “I think you should never waste a second of your life.”
After the service Cannamela reflected on Ashley and the story he co-produced.
“I was struck by everything she did in two years - finish her degree, graduate with honors, start a teaching career, get married, travel,” he said.
Asked about his own emotions at the service, Cannamela paused - for several seconds.
Finally, he said, “I guess I was just honored to be there - to be able to pay tribute to her and who she was and how she lived her life and touched people.”
He attended, he said, because, “As journalists we sometimes ask a lot of people in doing these types of stories. I don’t know if ‘obligate’ is the right word, but I felt it was the right thing to do. I wanted to see the other recipients and be there for them. In a real way we were the reason they got to know each other. For us to see the bond they created amongst themselves - that’s rewarding.”
Posted by Steve Marantz Jan 3, 2012