The Nurse Detective
July 2nd, 2013
The first day, it wasn't unusual that the patient was unidentified. Injuries, not names, take priority in JPS Health Network's Level I Trauma Center, and the patient - a veteran Lockheed Martin engineer who set off on his bike without ID - came in with a catastrophic head injury and internal bleeding. He remained unidentified on day two, when neurological tests in the ICU led to declaration of brain death.
But when nurse Jacqueline Nix found the patient still unidentified on the dawn of day three, "that just really bothered me," she recalled. "I could just not imagine how I would feel, if that was one of my family members." And there was organ donation to consider. If the patient’s family was to have an opportunity to consent, it would have to happen soon. "For a lot of families it's important to them, knowing their loved one was able to save someone else's life," said Nix, who made up her mind that Monday morning in May: This patient has a name.
Nix re-traced the patient's path. In the Emergency Department, she found bike gear - nice, high-end bike gear. "So I assumed that he probably had a nice bike, too," she said. Indeed, the patient had been cycling in East Fort Worth before being hit by a car that didn't stop. With the clock ticking, Nix called the police impound lot. Where was the bike? What kind was it? Were there any stickers on it? A detective retrieved a serial number and, through a local bike shop, linked it to a purchaser - a California man who bought the bike as a gift for his son, 52-year-old Jeffrey Allen Moorehouse, a 26-year veteran of Lockheed and Defense Department science and technology projects, including development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Nix found members of the Moorehouse family in Fort Worth, who established positive ID. A devoted father and scientist, Jeffrey Moorehouse was not just an avid bicyclist, but was passionate about fitness and nutrition, constantly sharing recipes and new knowledge of food science with his two grown daughters, who readily gave consent for organ donation.
"I know that is something that my dad would definitely have wanted to do," said Stephanie Moorehouse, 23, a college student home for the summer with her mother and sister, Courtney, 20 and also a student. "He believed in doing everything you can to be healthy, and he believed in doing whatever he could to help other people." As she recalled in a tribute to her father, their last conversation ended with him telling her, "'Stay healthy and take care of yourself, Steph. I love you.'"
Jeffrey Moorehouse donated organs for three transplants. Through the organ procurement organization LifeGift, his liver went to a 29-year-old Houston woman. Both kidneys went to California, one to a 49-year-old woman, the other to a 67-year-old man.
LifeGift staff credited Nix and Aaron Blue, MD, who maintained medical support until the patient was identified. "Dr. Blue and the rest of the ICU staff were incredible," reads a LifeGift narrative. "The patient was able to save three lives … thanks to the unrelenting dedication of all the staff at JPS."
Fort Worth police and Crime Stoppers are seeking information about the accident that killed Jeffrey Moorehouse. Moorehouse was riding his bike northbound in the 8900 block of Randol Mill Road, near the Arlington border in East Fort Worth, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. Police think that he got off his bike to inspect a loose chain or flat tire, and was on the side of the road when he was hit by what a witness described as a black Ford Focus. Anyone with information is asked to call the Fort Worth Police Department's traffic investigations unit at 817-392-4850 or Detective M.D. Mapes 817-392-4869.
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