Paul Field was a youthful 51-year-old man. He enjoyed his life in San Diego, and certainly never expected the events that so abruptly and fatally disrupted that life. A few weeks into the new year Paul choked on some food, which led him to go into cardiac arrest; and five days later, on January 26, 2023, he passed away in the intensive care unit of Paradise Valley Hospital. He never regained consciousness, and after it was confirmed that he no longer had any brain function, his family agreed to let Paul go with a compassionate extubation. At his bedside as he passed were his parents, Toni and Victor Field, along with other members of his immediate family.
Paul was identified as an organ donor, so Paul’s family was approached by Lifesharing, the organ procurement organization, about possibly making a donation. Paul’s family supported this, so Paul’s body was taken to Paradise Valley Hospital’s surgery department where surgeons who work with Lifesharing would save his organs to be later donated.
Paradise Valley Hospital staff gathered in the hallways that lead to the Surgery Department from the ICU and stood in respect and gratitude as Paul’s body was taken to the operating room, accompanied by his family. This tradition is called the “Honor Walk,” or “Code Life” in Paradise Valley Hospital parlance, and it happened spontaneously and organically. PVH staff stood silently, save for a few muffled cries, as Paul passed before them.
Per Paul’s family’s request, Paul’s favorite song was played on a phone placed on his gurney as he was transported. “Songs From Home” is a traditional song from New Zealand sung in both English and Māori. Paul, his mother, and his sister, Justine are New Zealanders who emigrated to the United States after Toni married Victor, a US sailor, in 1982.
As the doors to the Surgery Department closed after Paul and his family entered, PVH staff recited The Lord’s Prayer before dispersing.
“They were absolutely wonderful,” said Toni, about the staff at Paradise Valley. “The nurses, the doctors, everyone. They showed us a tremendous amount of compassion, and treated Paul so well.” Toni singled out ICU Charge Nurse Jason Villafuerte for the care he gave. “Our grandson Nicky was with us for much of the time Paul was in the ICU. He wants to be an RN, so Jason took the time to show Nicky around the ICU and explain to him what they were doing to care for Paul. Now Nicky, more than ever, wants to be a nurse.”
Paul’s selfless gifts have gone on to help the lives of others. His liver and heart were recovered and used for valuable research. His other tissues, including his corneas, have also gone on to help others in need. The waiting list for organ donations can be as long as a year’s wait for some.
To learn more about Lifesharing and organ donation, visit them at LifeSharing.org. If you would like to leave Lifesharing a message about Paul’s story, go to LifeSharing.org/feedback and reference case # AKAW036.