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Baltimore Officer Survives Second Life Threat

Sept. 14--Gene Cassidy thought he was lucky enough to survive one life-threatening event, but never thought he would face a second.

The first made him a legend among the Baltimore police ranks. He took two shots to the head in 1987 as he attempted to arrest a man wanted on an assault warrant. He was just 27 and lost his sight in the tragedy, but not his life.

Twenty-five years later that day came back to haunt Cassidy when he was diagnosed with end-stage cirrhosis of the liver caused by hepatitis C. He contracted the disease from blood transfusions while being treated all those years ago -- in the days before blood was tested for the disease.

Once again Cassidy faced the possibility of death. Once again he would survive.

In June, Cassidy received a much needed liver transplant. He shared his story Friday at a press conference at the University of Maryland Medical Center, where the surgery was performed.

It wasn't an easy journey. He would wait months for a transplant because he wasn't sick enough to be considered a priority on traditional donor lists -- from those who give organs after they have died. When he was finally sick enough there were no livers available and doctors worried when they found one Cassidy would be too sick for the operation.

He also tried for a living donation. In those instances a living person gives part of their liver and both can survive. But Cassidy had a hard time finding a match.

He never gave up hope. His motto became: "I am a fighter."

Those that know him said that if anyone could survive two tragic events it would have to be Cassidy.

Cassidy finally received a liver from a traditional donor. He is now out of the hospital and at home in Bel Air with his family. Throughout his ordeal all he wanted was a sense of normalcy. That meant going back to work and attending Ravens games as he did every season since the team came to town.

He hopes that will soon happen.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

Twitter.com:ankwalker

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