Did a recent episode of Desperate Housewives inspire Saturday's organ-donation suicide note at Mission Hospital?
Impossible to know, authorities said, but the similarities and timing haven't gone unnoticed. On the TV show's March 6 episode, a character named Beth walks into a hospital, hands over paperwork to donate her kidney to a neighbor, then pulls out a revolver and kills herself.
A similar scenario unfolded early Saturday when a 48-year-old Las Vegas man identified as Charles Kilduff apparently shot himself outside Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, leaving a note requesting his organs be donated, according to Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino.
But the gesture proved futile. Although someone found Kilduff's body on a hospital driveway and he was promptly declared dead after being rushed to the emergency room, his organs couldn't be used, said hospital spokeswoman Paula Serios.
Serios said privacy concerns prevented her from discussing the matter further. However, Bryan Stewart, a spokesman for OneLegacy, which handles organ donations for more than 200 Southern California hospitals, said the types of death that allow organ recovery are extremely rare.
The donor has to be brain dead but still have a functioning heart or be on a ventilator, Stewart said. Once a person's heart stops, other organs become oxygen-starved and rapidly deteriorate.
In Kilduff's case, by the time his body was found, it was probably too late to use any organs, Stewart said.
As for whether death was imitating art, authorities couldn't offer a definitive answer. Stewart, a 10-year veteran with OneLegacy, said this was the first organ-donation suicide note he'd ever heard about. However, sheriff spokesman Amormino said another man did the same thing a few years ago--at the same hospital. Mission Hospital spokeswoman Serios confirmed the story, but neither she nor sheriff's officials could recall specifics.
Was art perhaps imitating death instead? After all, Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry hails from Orange County. Maybe the first case inspired this year's episode. A spokesperson for ABC, the network that airs Desperate Housewives, couldn't be reached for comment.