Paul Keating: Heart Transplant Member Dies, Was An Earlier Unknown Hero

MARCH 2006 - We recently received word of the death of Association member Paul Keating, a heart transplant beneficiary who was the subject of a 1997 Voice article.

Keating, a retired Metropolitan Police Officer who had earlier been a state trooper, had just reached the first anniversary of his transplant, he was 65 years old. Without the transplant, he would have died and, in fact, Boston doctors told him he was too old to survive a transplant said the former Melrose native.

In 1988, after retiring, Keating and his wife Helen had moved to the small town of Alma, Maine where they lived a quiet life while his heart continued to worsen. He explained that he had tachycardia, which is thin walls and a rapid beat. "I was treated in Portland, but my heart could have blown at any time," he said.

Keating managed to be put on a transplant list at the Cleveland, Ohio Clinic Foundation, and unexpectedly found himself called to Cleveland where he received the heart of a 52-year-old New Jersey resident who was an accidental death victim. "In a sense this unknown donor is living in my body," he said. "What a great feeling." It was later that he found out that the donor was a woman.

Although Keating's life after the transplant was no bed of roses he was able to live a reasonably normal life. He cut firewood, cleared brush, and plowed his driveway with a snowblower, to name a few.

Eventually complications arose and Paul's heart gave out. When his son Pete called to tell us of his death he said that the extra years the transplant added to his dad's life were "well worth it for Dad and the family."

"Pete also discussed something that we both knew. While a state trooper, Paul was involved in a famous manhunt. A gun battle ensued and Paul was forced to shoot a man who was wanted for killing a police officer in Philadelphia," said Association President Ralph White. "It was a heroic deed on his part. He, as well as other troopers, were under fire and Paul told the man to give up, but instead the fugitive tried to shoot him."

We never pointed out Paul's involvement in our earlier article, but Pete said it was OK now that his dad's passed away. "The fatal shooting was tough on Dad... neither he nor his friends ever talked about it," said Pete. "But hey, he was a quiet hero in a lot of ways most people never knew."