WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Daniel Kline's watch stopped at 7:05 a.m.
It was Aug. 25, a Sunday morning, and the popular 23-year-old was driving north on Interstate 65 to West Lafayette from an Indianapolis hotel, where he had stayed after celebrating his cousin's 21st birthday.
About four miles from the Indiana 38 exit near Dayton, Daniel's 2006 Hyundai ran off the east side of the road and down a steep and heavily wooded embankment. The vehicle rolled at least once.
A semi driver stopped to call 911.
Five minutes later, Indiana State Trooper Darrick Scott responded. It took five more minutes for him to find the Hyundai with Daniel inside — his license, money and Purdue University student ID scattered on the ground. A preliminary blood test would later establish that his blood-alcohol concentration was well over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
At that early hour, Daniel, an assistant manager at Discount Den, should have been preparing to open the near-campus store, where customers knew him as "Discount Dan" or "Dan from the Den." Instead, state troopers escorted his parents, Stewart and Suzanne Kline, to IU Health Arnett hospital, the Journal & Courier reported (http://on.jconline.com/1cOs7u9 ).
Shortly after 8 a.m., Stewart called Adrienne Weliky, Daniel's sister. She and her husband, Gordon, were in Indianapolis, too, and stayed at the hotel with Daniel and friends.
All Stewart said was that Daniel had been in a "serious accident."
Instead of going to breakfast, Adrienne and Gordon drove straight to the hospital.
And so began an ordeal for which no family is ever prepared but many must eventually confront: the agonizing, yet ultimately liberating, decision to donate Daniel's organs.
Daniel was the third person in Tippecanoe County to give a live donation in August — something Coroner Donna Avolt said is extremely rare.
Even more rare was Daniel's blood type — AB negative. And that meant a longer-than-usual process to find recipients. The 36-hour journey became a delicate passage from Daniel's life to the lives he would save.
Once they arrived at the hospital, Gordon and Adrienne began calling Daniel's close friends and co-workers. It was not a short list, and several soon came to the hospital.
Daniel left surgery in a coma and was wheeled to the intensive care unit. His brain was swollen and the pressure was dangerously high. His lung had collapsed, other organs were bruised and early indicators showed potential brain damage.
Nurses worked ceaselessly, admiring photos of Daniel from his mother while adjusting and re-adjusting medications and staying past the end of their shifts.
Gordon, Adrienne and Daniel's parents never left his side, at most taking 30-minute naps. They always woke up for any sort of results.
At 3:15 a.m. Monday, Gordon texted Gordon Wantuch, one of Daniel's closest friends, to tell him that the neurologist had ordered a brain scan to see the extent of Daniel's brain damage.
"I don't really think a huge crowd of people out in the waiting room would be very appropriate, considering we might be getting some really bad news," he texted. "But I know how much Daniel means to you guys so you're obviously welcome to be here."
The brain scan declared Daniel brain-dead.
Stepping away, the doctors and nurses who had worked feverishly to keep Daniel alive gave his family time alone. Grief-stricken, Gordon went to tell Daniel's friends.
His family wondered what would happen next.
"What do we do now?" Stewart recalled asking. "How do we end this?
"And then it dawns on you," he continued. "He's alive. His body works."
What about organ donation?
"It's a hard thing to think about your loved one being pulled apart," Gordon said. "You want him to be at peace, and be himself and be at peace forever."
But the family wanted to do what Daniel would have wanted.
The bag of belongings that police brought to the hospital contained Daniel's driver's license. Looking at it, they saw their answer.
"A big, old red heart," Stewart said. "That settled it."
Although Daniel had never talked about it, the red heart on his license — signifying his desire to donate his organs in the event of his death — didn't surprise his family. It was just like Daniel, a sensitive and sincere young man who stopped to talk with everyone.
When family members brought up the idea to Daniel's nurses, it didn't surprise them either. They already had been in touch with the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization.
Any time a patient scores lower than 5 on the Glasgow Coma Scale — a neurological assessment to test a person's conscious state — hospitals are required to notify IOPO, said Jen Hittle, a charge nurse at the IU Health Arnett ICU.
Hours before Daniel's brain scan, IOPO waited, knowing that if the unthinkable happened, Daniel had registered as an organ donor.
In a consultation room, Daniel's family met Clyde Spann.
A family services coordinator from IOPO, Spann, an unassuming and warm man, has worked with families in distress like this for years.
In Indiana, anyone 13 and older can register to be an organ donor. IOPO meets with families to explain the process and make choices about what organs will be donated.
Once the donation process begins, IOPO takes over clinical care of the patient and picks up the bills. A flag in honor of the organ donor is hoisted outside the hospital.
Spann told Daniel's family that there is a critical shortage of available organs because not enough people agree in advance to be donors.
"When you know the information, it's hard to say no," Spann said. "Most people want to save a life."
Daniel's family chose to donate his organs. It's a donation for which only about 5 percent of deaths qualify because it involves a patient with massive, nonsurvivable brain damage, Spann said.
The family wouldn't be able to be by Daniel's side as his heart stopped beating, but they were no longer tasked with having to decide when to end life support.
Spann first helped Daniel's family to determine if they wanted to offer a directed organ donation to someone they knew on a waiting list. But no one they knew had an AB blood type. Spann then explained that information about Daniel's organs would be entered into the United Network of Organ Sharing to find a recipient. He said doctors could request additional testing and recipients had requirements they had to meet as well.
All the family could know about the recipients of Daniel's organs would be basic, anonymous information, unless those recipients agreed to tell more.
Normally, the process is complete within 8 to 12 hours. In Daniel's case, however, his rare blood type meant it could take 36 to 48 hours, Spann said, because the matched recipients could be farther away.
Just a few hours after the family meeting, the IOPO clinical team arrived.
They took blood and tissue samples to a lab in Indianapolis, where they waited hours for results, said Matt Wadsworth, manager of organ services for IOPO.
The clinical team reviewed Daniel's medical history, evaluated organ systems and changed medications to preserve his organ functions. Spann stayed with Daniel's family. Anytime he saw they were glazed over from hearing medical terms, he'd stop the doctor or nurse.
"Can you explain that term to them?" he would ask.
Spann showed the family the flag hoisted outside for Daniel. They took picture after picture on their cellphones.
"Such a silly little thing, but it just means so much," Gordon said.
Stewart said Daniel's rare blood type became a mixed blessing — saving lives but adding time to the process.
"His chest is moving up, his heart is beating, his hands are warm," Stewart said. "You want him to stop suffering once you know."
But the family's focus changed to Daniel's life — and the number of lives his precious gifts could spare.
A former lifeguard, Daniel protected swimmers at local pools in high school. And on a family trip to the Bahamas, he saved his sister when their parasail broke, plunging them into the water and trapping her, Stewart said.
How many more lives could he save now?
The early morning brain scan made it official: There would be a funeral.
Gordon sent a mass text: "We are compiling pictures for a slideshow of Daniel. If you would like, send us your favorite Daniel picture (old school, new school, selfie, group shot, whatever)." He texted more than 100 people.
"Please send them soon so we can sort them all. And please pass this along to anyone who cares about Daniel. Thank you."
Daniel, a vegetarian and an artist, loved "Wreck-It Ralph." He was the type of person who could do anything — and always be the best. And whenever he left the house, he saw people he knew.
From the hospital, Adrienne and a few friends started a slide show, pouring through Facebook, Instagram and computers looking for pictures.
Between the search and the photos sent by friends, in short order they had more than 1,200 pictures. Adrienne saw photos in which she didn't recognize the other people, but her brother looked happy and dressed up.
"It must have been an important event, so I'm going to put it in there," she said.
The slide show was set to music — songs his family wanted, as well as Daniel's top 25 most played on iTunes. Some were just fun — "Proud Mary or "Getting Jiggy Wit It" — but many — such as "If I Die Young" — were surprisingly appropriate, Gordon said.
Monday also was the day more and more visitors started to pour in. Groups of six to eight at a time were allowed into Daniel's room.
Female friends wailed as they learned Daniel had registered as an organ donor, weeping at the beauty of the gesture. Co-workers shared stories of how hard-working he had been. Other stories Adrienne already knew; the siblings were closer than most.
"There were so many kids in to see him at the hospital. There was just a revolving door of co-workers, friends, just acquaintances that knew him from the Den," Gordon said. "And they all wanted to see him and pay their respects to him, just hold his hand for a few minutes."
The visitors filled two waiting rooms, where they sat quietly. But every once in a while, someone would say something to try to lighten the mood, said John Kao, who worked with Daniel.
The two had planned to open a Discount Den branch together and had been traveling to scout locations. Daniel had spent the summer working at the Den, Jake's Beach House in Monticello and Jake's Roadhouse to save the money they needed.
Kao stayed at the hospital on Sunday, but Monday gave him the closure he needed.
By about 6 p.m., Daniel's family had been at the hospital for nearly a day and a half. Spann told them surgery wouldn't occur until the next evening. He told them it was OK to go home, shower, sleep and come back on Tuesday to say goodbye. They agreed to go home for the night.
"We wanted to see him as much as we could," Adrienne said.
Following an early morning echocardiogram, IOPO made the first organ offer.
Using Daniel's lab results, blood type and demographics including age, race, height and weight, IOPO plugged in to a national database of patients awaiting transplants to produce a list of eligible recipients.
First offers go to the sickest in Indiana, followed by patients in Ohio and Michigan, and then, if no match is found, to anyone in the country.
The blood type needs to match, Wadsworth said. Only about 4 percent of Americans are AB like Daniel.
Other tests continued into the morning hours.
At 11 a.m., a bronchoscopy was conducted to view Daniel's lungs. It turned out they had been too severely damaged in the accident to be transplanted.
As offers were made, surgeons called asking questions to see if Daniel might be a match for their patients. IOPO found matches for Daniel's kidneys, his liver and his heart. Surgeons would come from Indianapolis for the kidneys, from Cincinnati for his liver and from Lexington, Ky., for his heart.
The surgery needed to be planned to the minute. All the surgeons would be in the operating room together. Plus, the IU Health Arnett surgery staff and the operating room needed to be available.
As the process continued, the IOPO clinical team continued making calls and checking schedules. Surgeons summoned patients for pre-transplant testing. All the while, Daniel lay on life support with two nurses solely dedicated to his care, treated like any other ICU patient.
A nurse named Kelly Moore brought in her stethoscope so the family could listen to Daniel's heartbeat. And Spann offered tangible mementos to remember Daniel, giving the family strength and comfort.
There were locks of his hair, hand prints — with fingertips missing because his hands were too big for the paper — and thumbprints that can be made into charms for jewelry. A memory book was called "The Dash" to emphasize that the dash, or hyphen, between the dates of birth and death on a gravestone represents the totality of a person's life.
"All those little details just made a world of difference," Gordon said.
Friends came back for a last goodbye. Some took time to see Daniel alone. And as Stewart thought about all the friends who visited his son in those last hours, he couldn't help but hope that some would decide to become organ donors like Daniel.
"At some point, it's going to make a difference," Stewart said. "I chalk that up to more lives he saved. He gets credit for those, too. So the count keeps going on."
Daniel was wheeled into the operating room with ICU nurses Jennifer Greiner and Moore by his side.
He'd never spoken a word to either of them, but both nurses had spent that Monday and Tuesday with him and had glimpsed his life through photos and memories.
Greiner tried to keep her emotions separate from her job, but she couldn't do it with Daniel. She and Moore stayed past the end of their shift at 6 p.m. to be with him. As they were putting on their surgery scrubs, Adrienne said: "Oh, you get to go down with him? I feel like you know him."
Not 15 minutes before, Mason Farr, a childhood friend of Daniel's, had burst through the door. He'd flown in from Washington, D.C., just to say goodbye.
"I'm here," he panted.
Daniel's family walked with him to the elevators. There, they said their goodbyes.
Later, Gordon texted Daniel's friends and told them that Daniel had given the gift of life.
"It makes the fact that he is gone a little easier to cope with," Gordon said. "But it's still so hard to think about the future without him."
Daniel's surgery began at 9:02 p.m. that Tuesday night.
The surgeons from Cincinnati determined that Daniel's liver was not suitable to be transplanted and returned to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center without an organ.
Surgeons from the University of Kentucky recovered his heart at 11:33 p.m. and flew back to Lexington, where Dr. Charles Hoopes, director of the UK Transplant Center, and a recipient were waiting.
Hoopes said the heart needed to be transplanted in four hours or less for the best outcome.
At 11:35 p.m., Dr. Shekhar Kubal and his team recovered Daniel's kidneys to be transplanted the next day at IU Health University Hospital in Indianapolis.
Daniel was officially pronounced dead at 1 a.m. Wednesday.
In the weeks since the surgery, Daniel's family has learned what they can about the recipients.
Daniel's heart now beats inside the chest of a 42-year-old Kentucky man, who has two daughters, ages 20 and 22. He is a nurse and attends church. He left the hospital in excellent condition.
One kidney is with a 71-year-old Indiana man, who is married and has two children. He had been on the waiting list since June 2012. He left the hospital in good condition.
The other kidney was transplanted into a 45-year-old Indiana man, who has three children and enjoys his job as a crane operator. He had been on the waiting list since August 2011. He left the hospital and is doing well.
Daniel's family hopes to learn more about the people Daniel saved. The recipients may choose to contact Daniel's family someday. But that will be up to them.
"It's always going to be Daniel's heart, but he gave it to them and now they, God willing, will have a full life that maybe wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Daniel," Adrienne said.
IOPO will stay in touch with Daniel's family, offering support groups and whatever else they may need. In many ways, the organ donation itself became a form of support for the family, Stewart said.
"The biggest comfort we get is ... he was robbed of those years of his life, (but) someone else is going to get that," he said. "Someone else is going to get his years and be able to live a full life."
Adrienne kept the watch Daniel was wearing at the time of the accident because, in some ways, time for Daniel hasn't really stopped at all.
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com