Nassau officers honored for helping organ-carrying SUV

Two Nassau County Highway Patrol officers were honored Thursday for their quick actions after coming across a vehicle with a flat tire on the Long Island Expressway.
That vehicle belonged to LiveOnNY, an organ procurement organization. It was transporting several organs for transplant at the time. Officers Michael Hughes and Marty Messina were able to quickly change the tire, making it possible to get the organs to a donor patient.
On May 27, Hughes says he was on the side of the road near LIE Exit 41 when he spotted the SUV stopped in the left lane. He says he knew he had to help and that time was of the essence.
"When I saw what it said on the side of the vehicle I realized we should try to help them get along a little bit quicker," says Hughes.
The problem was that Hughes says he didn't have the proper equipment to change the tire. Luckily, Officer Messina showed up a few minutes later.
"Him stopping by really did make the difference of getting it out of there much quicker than it would have otherwise," adds Hughes.
LiveOnNY president and CEO Helen Irving says the officers helped save a life.
"A small act of kindness, you never know where it's going to get you," she says.
To show her appreciation, Irving presented the officers with a gift of life medals, which are typically given to families of organ donors.
"Sometimes it's a thankless job, but today it's not, it's a good thing," Messina says.
Irving says there are about 10,000 people on the organ wait list in the state and that one New Yorker on the list dies every 18 hours.