Donor bench memorialized boy killed playing basketball; Unites donor family, recipient

CHICAGO (WLS) -- He lost his life to gun violence last year at 11-years-old, but today David Anderson's spirit lives on because of his life saving gift.

Now, a permanent tribute is honoring the boy's legacy in Northwest Indiana.

On a sunny Monday afternoon, David's family gathers with others on a bench dedicated in his honor at St. Catherine Hospital, where the boy was first taken when he was shot.

His mother, LaTanya, was asked if she feels the power of her son as she sits on the bench. "Yes," replies emphatically. "He is right here with me, along with Denise, he is right here with me, right here with me too, he is with me every day though... now she gets a little taste of David keeping her going."

In May of last year David was gunned down playing basketball at his favorite park in East Chicago. In her grief, his mother LaTanya worked with the non-profit Gift of Hope to donate David's kidneys and liver to area recipients. His lungs, which propelled him up and down the court, went to Denise Ditusa of Frankfort.

"I am so blessed, I never thought this day would come and now we are one family," Ditusa said. "I think of him every day and I thank his mother for giving me a second chance at life. If it wasn't for her I would not be here today."

The pair met this Monday afternoon for the first time and were honored by St. Catherine Hospital staff in East Chicago where David was first brought.

Gift of Hope also memorialized the young hero with a bench at the hospital courtyard.

"It wasn't a hard decision because I know that is what David would have wanted. If you can help somebody out that's what he would want to do," LaTanya said.

"There is a lot of distrust in our community among different groups and different institutions, and organ donation truly brings us together," said Gift of Hope CEO Kevin Cmunt.

Meetings like the one, between donors and recipients, are unusual because there's a lot of trepidation. In fact, sometimes some guilt on the part of the recipient for having received such a beautiful gift from a family undergoing so much.

But David's bench will serve as a reminder that the story doesn't have to be like that and that it could be about hope for the future.

"David was a good kid, a great kid, with a great soul. And he loved basketball," LaTanya said.
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