FDNY emergency medical technician Jack Cloonan has always been a fighter. As a baby he was diagnosed with a rare liver disease that necessitated three liver transplants before the age of two. He recovered from these surgeries and went on to lead a relatively healthy childhood. That all changed when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia shortly after graduating from high school.
“Life is 5% what happens to you and 95% how you react to it,” Jack says of his health challenges.
He underwent 25 months of chemotherapy to rid his body of the disease. This time in the hospital combined with his early health struggles inspired him to devote his life to helping others as an EMT and organ donation advocate. He currently works for the FDNY at the Queens Tactical Response Group (QTRG).
Because of his past illnesses, Jack is at a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, but that did not stop him from performing his lifesaving duties throughout the pandemic. He and his colleagues take extra precaution to make sure masks are worn and all of their equipment is sanitized.
“My first liver came from a lifeguard who passed away and that had a deep impact on me,” he says. “I’m honored to help others in the greatest fire department in the world.”
To learn more about the power of organ, eye and tissue donation, please visit LiveOnNY.org.