Because he was a fighter, as in a fighter for life over an odds-on death, and because he was the hardest of a diehard Toronto Maple Leaf fan, 19-year-old Trevor Lewis will be buried Tuesday in his cherished Tie Domi jersey.
When his casket is wheeled down the aisle of Scarborough’s Bendale Bible Chapel, it will be draped with the blue-and-white Maple Leaf banner, and the pallbearers walking alongside will all be wearing Maple Leaf jerseys.
And if his parents’ wishes come true, every mourner in the chapel will forsake the formality of shirt and tie, or blouse and skirt, to wear Maple Leaf jerseys as well.
“It is what he would have wanted,” his mother, Sandy Lewis, said yesterday. “Trevor was the truest of true Maple Leaf fans, and a true fighter as well.”
She is far from being wrong. His small bedroom at the back of his parents’ Scarborough bungalow is, without question, a teenaged boy’s shrine to his favourite hockey club, complete with a Maple Leaf comforter and a Maple Leaf pillow, right down to a life-sized cardboard cutout of club captain Mats Sundin.
As for Trevor Lewis being a “fighter,” what more can be said about a young man who was born with a major heart defect, had lifesaving surgery at birth, then a heart transplant at the age of six, and a second heart transplant only three years ago at the age of 16?
“That’s why he will be buried in a Tie Domi Jersey,” said his father, Terry. “He was like Domi. He was a fighter.”
“You know, I was called a hero once, but I am no hero. My son is my hero, and always will be.”
Two years ago TTC bus driver Terry Lewis received a police citation for rescuing a neighhour who was being so savagely mauled by two pit bulls that he required more than 100 stitches to close the wounds to his head.
“But what I did is nothing compared to my son’s bravery throughout the years,” he said. “Absolutely nothing.”
Trevor Lewis was admitted to Toronto General Hospital last Wednesday, complaining of stomach discomfort—something that was not uncommon over the years considering the amount of medications he was forced to take daily to fight off both infection and rejection.
But it quickly went from bad to worse. His heart went into temporary arrest that evening and then, in the early hours of Thursday, a second attack took his life.
Back in 1995, there was a front-page picture of a then 11-year-old Trevor Lewis throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game honouring the memory of famed New York Yankee slugger Mickey Mantle, once the recipient of a liver transplant.
“Over 25,000 organ donor cards were handed out that night,” said Trevor’s mother. “If one of those cards saved a life, then Trevor’s life was well served.”
Visit Canada’s National Organ and Tissue Information site for more information.
“Not a day has gone by that we have not thanked the families who donated the two hearts that kept our son alive for so long, and gave us so much to be thankful for.” “Not a day,” she said. “Not a day.”
Because of privacy laws, neither Terry or Sandy Lewis know the actual names of those families, only that the first donor was a six year-old boy from Hamilton, and the second was a 14-year-boy from somewhere on the East Coast.
“But we wrote them anonymously,” she said. “If there is a message in all this, it’s that organ donation is so vitally important. It gave us our Trevor.”
Trevor Lewis was born with transposition of the major blood vessels to his heart, meaning, in layman’s terms, that they were backwards and in need of being switched.
By the age of six, however, heart failure had begun to take hold, and in 1990 he underwent transplant surgery at London’s Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario.
Then, in November 2000, Trevor made history by becoming the London hospital’s first patient to have a transplant as a child, and then a second as a teenager.
In his emotional heart of hearts, Trevor Lewis was torn between two right wingers on the Leaf squad—the rough-and-tumble game of Tie Domi, and the soft-hands and deft-touch style of Alexander Mogilny.
Two weeks ago, when all seemed as fine as fine could be, and the Leafs seemed to be picking up their game, his sister, Samantha, took a picture of him in his new Alexander Mogilny sweater—and that is the picture shown here.
But it is the fighter’s sweater of a Tie Domi that Trevor Lewis will be wearing tomorrow evening when viewing begins at the Jerrett Funeral Home on Kennedy Rd., and what he will be wearing to his grave at Pine Hills Cemetery.
Because that, in the end, is what the young man was. He was a fighter.
By Mark Bonokoski
The Sunday Sun, November 16, 2003 Page 12