South Orange’s David Adox Making Positive Impact Even After Death

by Mary Mann
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It’s been less than eight months since David Adox, nearly completely paralyzed and in the late stages of ALS, was removed from his ventilator and died a peaceful death with his husband Danni Michaeli by his side.

Danni Michaeli and David Adox with son, Orion

Danni Michaeli and David Adox with son, Orion

Adox had already impacted South Orange by inspiring Michaeli to create Artbender, a collaborative arts event that gave back to the Seton Village community that supported Adox and Michaeli through their ordeal.

Now, eight month’s later, Adox’s story of the struggle he went through to donate his organs has been covered in various media and has fostered a continuing conversation about how to treat end of life for patients like Adox — hopefully improving this difficult experience for those who come after him.

The difficulty for Adox was that University Hospital in Newark, where he had received treatment, had agreed to admit him so that he could be taken off of life support and have his organs donated. However, despite the fact that medical staff and others had signed off, the hospital’s lawyers intervened, fearful that the move would be seen as assisted suicide.

Ultimately, Adox was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital where his wish was fulfilled on May 18. His liver and kidneys were donated.

The Wall Street Journal published a thoughtful piece in June detailing his struggle to donate his organs and providing quotes from various experts in palliative care advocating for patients like Adox.

And now another new service has tackled the issue.

On Jan. 3, 2017, Kaiser Health News published the story, “A Dying Man’s Wish To Save Others Hits Hospital Ethics Hurdle.” After following the medical, ethical and legal twists and turns of Adox’s and Michaeli’s story, the piece ends with this affecting description of Adox’s final moments:

“We sat; we listened to ’80s music. I read Dave a poem,” Michaeli recounted, close to tears. “And when they were really sure — and we were all really sure — that he was in a deep state of sedation, they disconnected his breathing machine.”

And in the end, Adox’s wishes were met — he was able to donate his liver and kidneys. Michaeli said he felt “an incredible swelling of gratitude” to the hospital team who helped make that happen.

“The person we were trying to do a direct donation for was a match,” Michaeli said. “And he has Dave’s kidney right now.”


Related story:

Read Danni Michaeli’s piece on Artbender here.

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