Shown above: James "Jimmy" Corcoran, with family
As children they are our heroes. As adults they are our best friends. It’s hard to believe that there aren’t more calendar days dedicated to celebrating dads. Prior to Father’s Day, stores are busy with shoppers frantically searching for that perfect gift, but some gifts are so priceless and precious you can’t find them in any store. There are no sales or discounts, or even a coupon that could purchase them, because who could put a price tag on a gift of life. The gift of a life-saving organ transplant.
James “Jimmy” Corcoran wore many hats. He was a dad, husband, cop, brother and jokester, but most importantly he was a fighter. For the better part of 20 years he faced his diagnosis of hemochromatosis, a hereditary condition that causes excess iron in the blood, head-on after seeing his three younger brothers pass away from the degeneration the disorder caused. Jimmy decided his story would be different.
He lived as healthy as he could, took his medication and every 84 days was in a chair, donating blood. He was a phlebotomist’s favorite. While these were effective fixes, they were not a permanent solution. After having survived his second esophageal bleed, doctors told Jimmy he would need a liver transplant.
Before the doctor’s words could sink in, his kids, Erin and Jimmy, were already making plans to get tested to see if they could be a living donor to Corcoran. Living liver donation involves giving a portion of one’s liver to someone in need. The remaining portion of the donor’s liver regenerates, and within weeks the living donor once again has an entire, working liver.
Erin Daly, Corcoran’s daughter, was in her 30s, juggling a busy schedule of full-time police work and law school. She turned out to be Corcoran’s perfect match.
“My brother and I were both first responders during 9/11. He wasn’t able to donate but I’m the lucky one who was,” said Daly.
The pieces fell into place and made the donation process seamless. Daly had a team of supporters behind her from her boss to her professors. Her job granted her paid leave and her school allowed her to decrease her course load to a manageable level while she recovered.
The healing process was a challenge for both father and daughter. Daly was out of work for several months while her incision healed and Corcoran experienced a couple of setbacks. With time and medical adjustments though, the two were soon back to normal.
Daly’s liver gave her father 13 extra years of life. Those years were filled with joyous memories and milestones. He watched Daly cross the finish line of the New York City Marathon that she ran on her 45th birthday in honor of organ donation, raising upwards of $5,000. He witnessed both of his children get married. He saw his family grow bigger with the addition of seven grandchildren. He celebrated his wife’s 70th birthday and after “slight” intimidation had a grandchild named after him.
Last year, Corcoran passed away, but Daly described his final day as peaceful. He spent it sitting by the beach, joking around and enjoying time with his wife and friends.
When asked if she would do it again, without missing a beat, “Oh, 100% I would do it all again,” said Daly.
While Daly and her family can’t celebrate with Corcoran this Father’s Day they celebrate him in spirit, remembering the 13 years of extra memories that they get to hold onto forever.
Happy Father’s Day.