At 1:00 p.m. on May 23rd, Harbor Patrol received a call from the wife of a prospective kidney transplant recipient who had been on the “waiting list” for some time. She had been contacted by health officials who said a kidney from a deceased donor was waiting for him, but quick action was necessary to ensure he would be available in time for the transplant.
No problem, right? Well, the recipient was at the Channel Islands, and the Coast Guard and Harbor Patrol could not reach him by radio or cell phone. But there was still hope. Like all boaters should do, he had filed a “float plan” with his wife, who said he had sailed to Frys Harbor at Santa Cruz Island.
At 2:30 p.m., Harbor Patrol headed for the island aboard Patrol Boat #2 (PB #2), bucking heavy seas and 20-knot west winds along the way. Instead of heading directly for Frys, officers aimed for an area west of Frys, so they could check nearby small coves and anchorages in case the vessel had relocated. Meanwhile, the National Park Service began checking anchorages from the east end of the island working west.
Shortly after 3:30 p.m., Harbor Patrol arrived at Frys, and voila, there stood the “intended target” aboard a sailboat, looking somewhat astonished at a Harbor Patrol boat 25 miles from Santa Barbara Harbor. It was, in fact, one of the rare times—possibly the only time—Harbor Patrol has responded to Santa Cruz Island. Informed that his number was up and that Patrol would escort him back to Santa Barbara, he quickly packed a few essentials, climbed aboard PB #2, and the party of three—Officers Jan Martinez, Anthony Lombardi, and the prospective recipient—headed for the mainland. They arrived back at Santa Barbara Harbor at 4:45 p.m., and the recipient reported that he was safely in his room at a Los Angeles-area transplant center shortly before 6:00 p.m. He called Harbor Patrol the next day to say, “Thanks,” and to relay the news that he had received his new kidney.