NC airman at center of rabies case was outdoorsman

Posted at 12:53 PM, Mar 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-19 09:11:27-04

TRENTON, N.C. (AP) - When William Edward Small told his father that he'd signed an organ donor card, it came as no surprise. "Little Ed" had been that way his whole life, his dad says.

Officials say that generosity may have inadvertently cost another man his life.

Health officials said last week that a Maryland man had died because the kidney he received from the 20-year-old airman in late 2011 was infected with rabies.

Alecia Mercer, the mother of the younger Small's 3-year-old son, confirmed Monday that the Trenton, N.C., man was the donor of the infected organs.

A year and a half ago, officials told Small's loved ones he'd died of food poisoning or a stomach virus. Now, they must live with the knowledge that one man is dead, and several others may have been infected.