It’s still hard for Herbert Lewis to find solace five years after his son was murdered. Fathers Day is the hardest, he said. The only thing that gives him some comfort is the fact that Devron helped five more people live more vibrant, productive lives.
“It still hurts,” Lewis, an ambassador for transplant donor agency One Legacy, said in a recent interview with the Sentinel, “especially not knowing who the killer is so that we can have some closure.”
In March 2003, Devron was on his way home from work when, according to the LAPD, a man ran into the street shooting at a car, missed the target and he was shot in the back of the head. In the hospital, after hearing the news that his 28-year-old son was brain dead the people from One Legacy approached him about organ donation. But a devastated Lewis had been reluctant.
“I mean, after hearing my son was brain dead and for them to approach me...,” said Lewis.
“It was difficult when only thinking of the body, but I kept coming back to the realization that the body is only the house. As parents and families we want the people we love here with us but sometime it’s only for a short stay, and as I see it now, to then pass on the gift of life to others.”
For Devron, the “others” included a 38-year-old African -American male who received his heart, a 55-year-old male who received the liver, a 48-year-old African American male who received his pancreas, a 61-year-old African American male who received one kidney with the 2nd kidney given to a 29-year-old female.
“He was so full of life, love and joy, never stayed angry or held animosities. He found laughter in everything, even serious situations,” Lewis recalled.
“It was his way of embracing life that has bought us to this point..he had a friend on dialysis. She needed a kidney and they finally found a family member who was a match. The person agreed but at the last minute changed her mind and he was so affected, he could not comprehend if given the ability to save a life why not. He became so fixated with organ donation. One month before his death he came to me in the kitchen and made me promise that if anything happened to him please donate his organs...”
While African Americans represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, they represent 27 percent of individuals on the National Organ Transplant Waiting List and 35 percent of those awaiting a kidney transplant.
Over the past decade, there has been a 166 percent increase in the number of African Americans waiting for organ transplants. Call (800) 786-4077 for more information on how to get involved.