GARY, Ind. (AP) — He was an amazing 4-year-old full of spirit, personality and charm.
He looked up to his father, had been looking forward to the birth of his baby sister and wanted to be a police officer.
But his life tragically ended after a fire at his grandmother's Gary home in December, and his parents made the decision to donate his organs.
D'Anthony Fryerson's gift saved the lives of two other children, including a 4-year-old California girl who might have died if D'Anthony's parents had not decided to take him off life support sooner than they had planned, said Carritta Fryerson, D'Anthony's mother.
"I want people to understand that even when you're going through something as tragic as we went through, you can always do for others," Carritta Fryerson said during a ceremony Monday at Gary City Hall.
Kevin Cmunt, president and CEO of Gift of Hope, said D'Anthony impacted the world in a special way. Gift of Hope arranged the organ donations.
Kendra Johnson, D'Anthony's grandmother, said her grandson was a remarkable child who never wanted to see anyone unhappy.
She recalled the fire and how she desperately tried to save him as her home filled with smoke, overwhelming heat and flames.
As she tried again go back for D'Anthony, a neighbor pulled her out of the home. It was too hot, and she had to wait for firefighters, the neighbor told her.
When the Fire Department arrived, "they did everything they could to save him," said Johnson, of Gary.
As part of the ceremony, Fire Department employees Danny Hesslau, Jerry Jordan and Larry Tillman were honored for their efforts. Because of them, D'Anthony made it to a hospital and could be placed on life support, the boy's family said.
Fire Chief Paul Bradley recalled that when he arrived at the scene, some of the firefighters there were heartbroken and felt they could have done more. Bradley said he told them they did their best.
"We know we tried. We try to move on to the next call. That's what we're trained to do," he said. "But we never forget the families."
Carritta Fryerson recalled the last time she saw her son, who came with his siblings to visit her at Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary because she'd been hospitalized due to complications of her pregnancy.
"He was always so full of spirit and so much personality," she said. "He was such an old soul to be 4 years old. Loved the Temptations."
Carritta Fryerson checked herself out of the Gary hospital to be with D'Anthony at an Illinois hospital, but was admitted to her son's hospital after suffering another pregnancy complication and gave birth to her only daughter.
At one point, D'Anthony's doctor came to her and said the boy would be declared brain dead, she said.
As Carritta Fryerson and her husband, DeShannon, who have since moved their family to Missouri, looked on D'Anthony for one of the last times, they decided to donate his organs.
Gift of Hope told the couple a girl in California could die that weekend if they waited to remove their son from life support on a planned date, she said.
"We would never want anyone to go through that pain," Carritta Fryerson said.
She said her husband looked at her and said, "Let's do this. Let's save this little girl."
Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com
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