After stray bullet kills Takiya Holmes, her family donates her organs

Darvece Monson, 36, sat in her hairdresser's chair Tuesday, still in shock from hearing that her half sister's niece Takiya Holmes had died that morning, days after the 11-year-old was struck by a stray bullet.Her phone would not stop ringing. It was her...

 After stray bullet kills Takiya Holmes, her family donates her organs

Darvece Monson, 36, sat in her hairdresser's chair Tuesday, still in shock from hearing that her half sister's niece Takiya Holmes had died that morning, days after the 11-year-old was struck by a stray bullet.

Her phone would not stop ringing. It was her half sister who told her that Patsy Holmes, Takiya's grandmother, had announced during a news conference that the family planned on donating one of Takiya's kidneys to Monson.

"I'm just so grateful," Monson said. "And all I could think about was the selflessness of this decision and these two parents making this decision when this young girl was a victim of such a terrible situation and for me to have a second chance at life."

Monson received the kidney Thursday afternoon at University of Chicago Medicine.

Dr. Yolanda Becker, the hospital's director of kidney and pancreas transplants who performed Monson's procedure, said she was surprised to receive an email from Monson about the direct donation. Though she could not disclose who the donor was, citing medical privacy laws, she said that the kidney Monson received was a good match and that the transplant was successful.

The 11-year-old killed in Chicago's gun violence – and her gift of life to 6 others Dahleen Glanton

Just hours after she died in her mother's arms, 11-year-old Takiya Holmes did something remarkable.

She saved six lives, according to the girl's grandmother, Patsy Holmes. The youngest is 7 months old. The oldest is 67.

Seven of Takiya's organs were donated following her death on Tuesday — to a...

Just hours after she died in her mother's arms, 11-year-old Takiya Holmes did something remarkable.

She saved six lives, according to the girl's grandmother, Patsy Holmes. The youngest is 7 months old. The oldest is 67.

Seven of Takiya's organs were donated following her death on Tuesday — to a...

(Dahleen Glanton)

"I'm so sad for the circumstance but I'm thrilled for Darvece, that she doesn't have to struggle for years on dialysis," Becker said.

And Takiya's organ donations will not be limited to Monson, her family said. Her kidneys, lungs, pancreas and liver will be donated to five other people, from a 7-month-old patient to a 67-year-old patient, said Patsy Holmes, who confirmed that Monson received Takiya's kidney.

The organ donations will serve what is an acute need in the medical community, said Jack Lynch, director of community affairs for Gift of Hope, an organ procurement agency that handled Takiya's donation.

More than 100,000 people nationally have advanced kidney failure and need transplants, and organ donations from children are more rare than organ donations from adults.

Police: Suspect shot at 3 gang rivals, killing 11-year-old Takiya Holmes instead Jason Meisner, Jeremy Gorner, Elvia Malagon and William Lee

Antwan C. Jones was walking down the street Saturday evening when he spotted three gang rivals selling pot in Black Disciples territory and opened fire from across King Drive, according to police and prosecutors.

As happens too often in Chicago, Jones missed his target and instead wounded 11-year-old...

Antwan C. Jones was walking down the street Saturday evening when he spotted three gang rivals selling pot in Black Disciples territory and opened fire from across King Drive, according to police and prosecutors.

As happens too often in Chicago, Jones missed his target and instead wounded 11-year-old...

(Jason Meisner, Jeremy Gorner, Elvia Malagon and William Lee)

"We don't lose children at the same rate at which adults expire and there are still thousands of children in need of transplants," Lynch said.

Not only is a matching blood type needed for a child organ donation, but the size of the kidney and its ability to filter blood is also taken into consideration, Lynch said.

Patients awaiting kidney transplants can receive organs in one of two ways. In Monson's case, it was a direct donation, but others could spend more than five years on the waiting list until they reach the top of the list. More than 4,700 people die each year while waiting for a kidney, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Most people on the waiting list receive a kidney from a deceased person who has signed up as an organ donor, or from a friend or family member.

As for Monson, she said she had been waiting for 20 months to get a new kidney after she was found to have stage 5 renal failure in May 2015. She started dialysis in June 2015, she said, and has worked to raise awareness about kidney disease while waiting for a transplant.

Third child dies from a shooting in Chicago in just two days Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Jason Meisner and Gregory Pratt

Kanari Gentry-Bowers' family was determined not to let her go.

As the 12-year-old lay unconscious for days in a hospital bed, a bullet wound to her spine, they read to her: notes from friends, a homemade Valentine's Day card from a boy Kanari liked, a school banner her principal brought over that...

Kanari Gentry-Bowers' family was determined not to let her go.

As the 12-year-old lay unconscious for days in a hospital bed, a bullet wound to her spine, they read to her: notes from friends, a homemade Valentine's Day card from a boy Kanari liked, a school banner her principal brought over that...

(Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Jason Meisner and Gregory Pratt)

But she never thought that Takiya, her half sister's niece whom her own daughter had play dates with, would be the donor.

Takiya was shot in the head Feb. 11 while sitting in a car with her family on the South Side. She was one of three Chicago children to be killed over two days by gunshot wounds. The bullet that struck her had been fired from across a busy street in the Parkway Gardens housing complex. Antwan Jones, 19, was trying to hit three rivals for infringing on his drug turf, according to Cook County prosecutors. Jones was charged in the killing and held without bond.

A news notification on Monson's phone alerted her of the incident. Facebook posts then revealed the grim news that Takiya was the victim.

"It all happened in an instant, from the news to social media," Monson said. "It's just being in a state of shock."

When Monson finally reached the hospital, Takiya's mother, Naikeeia Williams, told her that giving Takiya's kidney to her would "honor her baby's memory."

Young victims of violence: What the numbers show

Three children 12 years old and younger were victims of Chicago gun violence the week of Feb. 13. The Tribune tracks shootings and homicides. Here is what the data says about the youngest victims of Chicago's street violence. (Jonathon Berlin/Chicago Tribune)

Three children 12 years old and younger were victims of Chicago gun violence the week of Feb. 13. The Tribune tracks shootings and homicides. Here is what the data says about the youngest victims of Chicago's street violence. (Jonathon Berlin/Chicago Tribune)

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"She said: 'This is what she would want. My daughter is my mini-me and this is what she would want. There's not a doubt in my mind,'" Monson recalled Takiya's mother saying. "It was very moving."

Monson said she has had many other people offer to donate a kidney to her, but they failed to match. Monson needed someone who had Type A or Type O blood.

"When I finally get to the hospital, I find out she's an O and I'm an A," Monson said. "The rest is history. She was a perfect match. It never, never happens like that."

Chicago Tribune's Dahleen Glanton contributed.

gwong@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @GraceWong630

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