Firefighter family's difficult decision will save lives

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Firefighter family's difficult decision will save lives

CREATED Jul. 2, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
 
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Sterling Lytle remains on life support Monday night. The 25-year-old Nogales firefighter’s family, meanwhile, is preparing for a difficult decision that will end his life. But those close to him know the decision will allow Lytle to continue saving lives, just as he did as a firefighter.
 
“It's a nightmare," said Lytle's mother, Sarah Lytle-Barcelo. "I've never experienced pain like this before."
 
She is a mother in agony; a mother who's losing her son.
 
“It's heart wrenching, and I don't wish this upon any parent,” Lytle-Barcelo told 9 On Your Side.
 
Someone drove over 25-year-old Lytle in Tucson late last week then took off.
 
“They literally ran over his chest and his head,” she said. “They broke every rib. They smashed his brain.”
 
A pilot, firefighter and member of a close-knit family, Lytle was left with severe brain trauma on life support. The family said doctors anticipate he would be in a coma the rest of his life.
 
“He was too vibrant to leave him in that condition,” said Lytle’s stepfather, Casey. “He would not want that.”
 
The family made the tough decision to remove their loved one from life support. They hope the final good bye is quick Tuesday afternoon.
 
“There's organ donation involved here so I just want to ask for everyone's prayers that he'll pass soon,” said Lytle-Barcelo.
 
It will happen in the same hospital he was born in: the University of Arizona Medical Center.
 
They say if Lytle dies within 90 minutes of being disconnected, more organs will be usable and can then save more lives.
 
9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen asked Kris Patterson of Donor Network of Arizona: “How is important is time?” “Time is very important,” the spokeswoman said over the phone.
 
Patterson said a person's single decision to donate organs can save up to eight lives.
 
“[The families] are some of the most kind and generous and loving people,” Patterson said. “Even through the most trying of times, even through their darkest grief, they choose or their loved one has already chosen to save and heal other people's lives.”
 
Patterson said in any organ donation case, local people waiting for organs are given priority when they become available nearby. That means Tucsonans who've been waiting could receive organs Tuesday thanks to Lytle.
 
Learn more about Donor Network of Arizona and register to be a donor online.
 
The police investigation continues, and detectives are treating it as a case of aggravated assault, at last word. The family wants justice and called on anyone who knows something about the case to call 88-CRIME or 9-1-1. There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to arrest.

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