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Published: Saturday, 7/10/2004

Teenager found in pool dies; mom donates his organs

James James

Kenneth James died yesterday - a week after he was pulled from the bottom of a pool - and his mother decided to give someone else a chance at life.

Sharon James donated her 15-year-old son's heart, lungs, pancreas, liver, and eyes. Coming from a boy who would "give the shirt off his back," Ms. James said the gifts seemed a fitting end to her son's life.

"Someone will live on because of Kenny, and Kenny will live on as well," Ms. James said. "And whoever has his heart will bounce around also."

The youth died in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where he was taken after being found unconscious in a city pool at 910 Dorr St., near Smith Street.

The young man and a friend apparently sneaked into the pool just before midnight July 3.

For a week, family and friends kept a vigil at the teen's bed; he never regained consciousness. Yesterday, his mother said, Kenny's brain finally gave out.

"It's just hard," she said. "But I know what he would want. Since he had such a big heart, I wanted to share it."

Young James was a student at Toledo Accelerated Academy, and often could be seen riding his bike around the neighborhood with friends, his family said.

He also had a soft spot for animals and was always playing with dogs.

Ms. James said her son couldn't swim and questioned how he ended up in 12 feet of water.

Her brother, David James, said the tragedy should be a wake-up call for other teens who may be contemplating bad decisions like being out past curfew or sneaking into parks.

But he also hoped it would encourage better security at the city's 11 pools.

City officials said earlier this week that although youths occasionally break into pool grounds and damage property, they generally stay out of the water.

Contact Erica Blake at:


or 419-724-6076.

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