Stephen Fallon Will Not Forget the Message He Got at JFK Stadium: For Him It Was Real Live Aid
08/05/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT
It was 11:30 a.m. and Stephen Fallon, 25, was among the 100,000 people watching the Live Aid concert at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium when Chevy Chase came onstage. "Stephen Fallon," Chase called out, "we have a kidney for you. Report to the hot-air balloon on the right side of the stage." Fallon, a Waltham, Mass. postal worker, remembers his disbelief and the cheer the announcement raised. Stephen became an instant celeb. When he reached the balloon, concert aide Mary Smotrys was waiting for him. "She was on the phone to the police, airlines, everybody," he says. "She was great. She gave me a press pass and rushed me to a state police car behind the stage." Almost before he knew it, Stephen was on the 12:45 p.m. plane to Boston, and his new kidney.
Excursions like the Live Aid concert were a rare treat for Fallon. Ever since a blood test a year ago revealed that he had nephritis, a condition that erodes kidney function, he had been put on dialysis three times a week. "It put a cramp in my social life," says Fallon, who is divorced with equal custody of his daughter, Sheralyn. "I had my daughter, I had my work and I had my dialysis." Deciding the rock concert would be a definite morale booster, Fallon and a pal, Mike Flaherty, drove Stephen's pickup eight hours through the night to Philadelphia. After an hour's sleep they got into JFK just as the music started.
"I knew Stephen had gone to the concert," his father, Joseph, says. "When I found out a kidney was available, my first thought was, 'How long can they keep it?' Mass. General Hospital said it was already a few hours old, so I started a series of phone calls to the police and concert officials. When you're Irish and thick, you keep trying. I was desperate. 'Look,' I said, 'if you don't help me my son will die.' And I finally got through. That woman [Smotrys], she's the one that did it all. I bought her a dozen long-stemmed roses."
Stephen is recovering at his parents' home from the four-hour transplant operation. "This is my summer vacation," he jokes. But he's not kidding when he talks about what a perfect day the Live Aid concert was for him. "Some people have to wait years," he says of organ recipients. "I just got lucky."