Pelle Lindbergh, the Philadelphia Flyers goalie who had been brain dead since a car crash early Sunday morning, was declared dead tonight after surgeons removed all of his vital organs for possible transplantation.
A nurse at John F. Kennedy Hospital-Stratford said the operation that started in late afternoon was completed at about 8:45 p.m.
Flyers spokesman Mark Piazza confirmed that the Delaware Valley Transplant Program, better known as Kidney 1, had removed Lindbergh's vital organs, as his family had requested earlier in the day.
Howard Nathan, the director of Kidney 1, the regional organization that coordinates organ transplant procurement, tonight issued this statement:
"We would like to express our sincerest condolences to the Lindbergh and Flyer families on the loss of Pelle. The Lindbergh family decided to donate his organs after discussions with doctors.
"All usable organs and tissues were donated to help as many people as possible. The organs will be transplanted into patients in the most medical need and those who are a medical match.
"The family has expressed comfort in knowing that others may be given a new chance at life through these transplants."
Lindbergh's father, Sigge, and his mother, Anna-Lisa, told doctors Monday night and again this morning that they wanted doctors to remove any organs that could be transplanted, but that they also wanted to spend a few more hours with their son.
"I'm sure privately they hope there could be a miracle," Flyers team physician Dr. Edward Viner said at a morning news conference. "But they are also anxious not to lose the chance to help others."
Lindbergh, 26, who suffered extensive brain and spinal cord injuries, was officially declared clinically dead Monday morning while his heart and lungs were kept functioning only through the use of a respirator. The surgery to remove the organs was done with the respirator still on because blood flow to the organs must be maintained until their removal.
According to Viner, Lindbergh was legally drunk when he smashed his 1985 Porsche into a cement wall. "The family was very upset about that because he was shamed in Sweden, where it is a very negative thing," said Viner.
Also injured in the crash were passengers Edward T. Parvin, 28, and Kathyleen McNeal, 22. Both remained hospitalized today, Parvin in critical condition and McNeal in stable condition.
"The family has been thinking of this from the very beginning," Viner said before the operation. "They said yes last night. But we felt that's a decision that has to be slept on, so we re-asked them this morning if they still feel comfortable and if it was a firm decision."
Lindbergh's father arrived from Sweden Monday night at about 6 p.m. and joined his wife, who had been here visiting, and Lindbergh's fiance, Kerstin Pietzsch, at his bedside.
"If the decision is made to have Pelle's organs donated, someone else will be given an opportunity to go on with their life," Flyers Coach Mike Keenan said before the operation. "Biologically, Pelle will be giving someone else an opportunity to live.
"His spirit is going to live amongst the people he's touched, including teammates. I don't think it's going to make that much difference right now. The team accepted the fact that Pelle will no longer be with us."
Said Flyers General Manager Bobby Clarke: "Each day you realize you've got to keep going and that you have things to do, but I don't know that one more day makes a difference. We're still sick about it, but it's something we have to live with."
The Flyers practiced at The Coliseum again today. The faces of the players expressed the hurt that they feel, even if they were able to vent some of the frustration on the ice.
"It was a great practice, considering the adversity they're working under," Keenan said. "I think there is some solace in being in an environment that they know best and are comfortable in."
Team captain Dave Poulin, who had most of the team at his house Monday night, said Lindbergh's bubbly charm had endeared him to his teammates. When that was gone by sunrise on Sunday, not much else mattered.
"It was made clearly known to us Sunday morning when we were first brought together that it was final other than a formality," Poulin said. "If his organs can be donated that will help others and Pelle will live on."
Lindberg, voted the Vezina Trophy last year as the National Hockey League's top goalie, was a member of the 1980 Swedish Olympic team that won the bronze medal at Lake Placid.
Tests taken in the hospital emergency room showed Lindbergh's blood alcohol content at .24 percent, far above the .10 percent limit at which a New Jersey driver is considered legally drunk.
Authorities say a person of Lindbergh's weight would have to consume 15 drinks within four hours to attain that level, but Flyers players who were at the bar insisted Lindbergh did not appear to be heavily intoxicated when he left.
Asked if there was a possibility the test could be wrong, Viner said: "Sure, there is. We all wanted to avoid the issue of a number . . . I felt forced to reveal a number. I don't know what he was like at the moment (he left the club)."