Upstate surgeon remembers the night he tried to save John Lennon TMs life

John Lennon / file photo

An Upstate surgeon remembers the night he tried to save John Lennon TMs life.

In an interview, David Halleran MD, a colorectal surgeon at Syracuse TMs Upstate University Hospital , tells CNY Central about the day he tried to save John Lennon TMs life after he was shot in the chest.

31 years later, Halleran recalls the night of December 8, 1980, when he was called to the emergency room of Roosevelt Hospital as a third-year general surgery resident.

Halleran didn't have much information about the patient he would be treating. All Halleran knew was that a man with gunshot wounds had been brought to the hospital by police car.

The patient was wheeled into the hospital on a stretcher with a gunshot wound to the chest. Members of the trauma team, unaware of the identity of their patient, cut off Lennon TMs leather bomber jacket, jeans, and red t-shirt to begin intravenous lines and breathing tubes.

"Nurses, everyone's cutting off clothes putting in IVs, putting tubes in his lungs and I'm opening his chest," said Halleran.

Moments later, Halleran literally held the man's heart in his hands as he tried to save his life.

"His heart was intact. He did not get shot in the heart," said Halleran. "I was giving him cardiac massage,"

Halleran still didn't know anything about his patient. As he and a team of nurses tried to restore the man's vital signs, a nurse told Halleran that the man looked familiar.

"During this time one of the nurses said, that looks like John Lennon. I said 'No that is not John Lennon."

Even after seeing Lennon's wallet, Halleran was skeptical but another doctor who had arrived at the hospital confirmed it. The man they were working on was one of the most famous people in the world.

"He came in from the outside and said - that is John Lennon. That's when it became a little surreal. What was a John Doe gunshot wound that we see a moderate amount of at the hospital became something special," said Halleran

Halleran and the ER staff worked on Lennon for about forty five minutes but the four gunshot wounds Lennon received caused a massive loss of blood. Lennon never recovered consciousness and was pronounced dead.

A massive crowd formed outside Roosevelt Hospital as word got out that Lennon had been shot. Halleran has never spoken publically about what happened that night. He says even some of his close friends don't know he was the surgeon who worked on John Lennon but Halleran said he decided it was time to se the record straight on what happened thirty one years ago.

"It was something you would do for anybody. In fact, we didn't know who it was. Personally I'm glad I didn't know who it was because I might have been non-functional," said Halleran.

Halleran is now a surgeon at Upstate Hospital at Community General in Syracuse. While he has kept quiet about his work at Roosevelt Hospital that night, he says it has affected him greatly.

"There were a lot of people I saw in the ER in Roosevelt that I don't remember but this is one I'll never forget."

Halleran was a Beatles fan and says he still wonders what John Lennon would have accomplished if his life had not been cut short.

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