Baltimore City police officer and Bel Air resident Gene Cassidy survived gunshot wounds in the line of duty and later a liver transplant -- events he says make him thankful to be alive. He says he feels lucky, too.
He is grateful for the life-saving blood transfusions he received after being shot in the head twice while on active duty in 1987—a shooting that left him blind. He is thankful for the life-saving liver transplant he received many years later in 2011, after blood transfusions from previous surgeries led to cirrhosis of the liver.
And now he is thankful for the people who have rallied alongside him in his quest to raise awareness for organ donation at the Living Legacy Foundations' fifth annual Donate Life Family Fun Run.
Friends of Gene (FOG) is one of the largest teams participating in the Donate Life Run on Oct. 5 at Camden Yards.
“I am overwhelmed actually and very touched by 69 people that will be running for us,” Cassidy said.
For Cassidy, supporting organ donation awareness is personal. When his liver failed, Cassidy said doctors gave him 11 hours to live. Fortunately, they found a donor in time.
“I am very, very thankful for the donor and the donor’s family,” Cassidy said. “It gives me a second chance at life.”
Cassidy’s life-saving liver donation was the second time in his 53 years that doctors gave him a minimal chance of survival.
In 1987, Cassidy was shot twice in the head while attempting to arrest a suspect in Baltimore City. He later learned he had a 4 percent chance of surviving the incident that left him blind at age 27.
Today, Cassidy still works as an instructor with the Baltimore City Police Department. When he looks back on his two near-death experiences, his rationality for survival is simple:
“I am very lucky,” Cassidy said. “It’s as simple as that. I really am and thank God. I think he wants me around or something. I don’t know.”
This is the second year Cassidy will participate in the Donate Life event. In 2011, shortly after the transplant, he did the 1K walk. This year he will do the 5K, and the donor’s family will be heavy on his mind.
“If it was not for that donor’s selflessness, I would not be here today. It gives me another opportunity to live on,” Cassidy said. “When you donate an organ you are giving another individual an opportunity to thrive."
To help support team FOG, or to register for the Donate Life Family Fun Run, visit the event’s website. You can also register the day of the race.