BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Bloomington community, family, friends, and fellow first responders are honoring a Hoosier hero who will continue to serve others even after his passing.

On Friday, Bloomington firefighter Robert Loviscek, a registered donor, donated his tissue at Indiana Donor Network. The Indiana Donor Network said his decision to be a tissue donor will help heal or save up to 75 people.

“You’re not just giving that gift to a recipient. You’re giving a gift to a recipient’s family. You’re giving a gift to your own family in that you’re continuing to live on,” said Amy Pruitt, Manager of Tissue Services for Indiana Donor Network.

Loviscek’s loved ones and colleagues said his entire life was defined by his selflessness and choice to always be helping others.

“When someone signs up or they earn the title of firefighter, they make a lifelong commitment to service of others, sacrifice,” said City of Bloomington fire chief, Jason Moore. “It’s only fitting for how he spent his entire life saving others and helping others that even in his death, he’s still finding another way to help someone.”

Loviscek, 53, died unexpectedly on July 5 after suffering a medical emergency while visiting his family’s lake house.

According to his family, Loviscek served his country for more than a decade in the United States Marine Corps before his discharge. After that, he went on to serve on the Speedway Fire Department for five years, before spending the last 20 years with the Bloomington Fire Department.

“Rob served his community with pride and honor,” read his obituary.

Moore told FOX59 that Loviscek put his entire heart into everything he did, both on and off the job. He also said that he had the ability to make everyone he encountered feel welcomed. He knows his legacy and memory will continue to live on through his donation and impact he had on others.

“When you get into this career, you want to do it for the right reasons, and Bob was one of those people who did it for the right reasons. He is one of the best of us and he is an example to all of us of how we should serve our community and help others,” said Moore.

On Friday, after the donation took place, a ceremony was held at the Indiana Donor Network with Loviscek’s family, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, and other first responders from Bloomington and beyond. Also standing side-by-side was the medical care team that helped throughout the donation process.

In a tear-filled showing of respect, Loviscek’s flag-draped casket was escorted down the hall of Indiana Donor Network’s ICU complex during an honor walk. After the ceremony, a procession of first responders and family members traveled through Marion, Johnson, Morgan, and Monroe Counties, bringing Loviscek home to Bloomington.

The route also included passing the Speedway Fire Department, paying respect to his service in the community for half a decade.

“On behalf of the family, knowing the legacy he’s already left behind, there’s countless people – we may never actually know how many lives he’s touched – and yet here he is again helping and saving and continuing that legacy on,” said Moore.

Aside from his career as a firefighter, family said Loviscek also loved to help coach football and baseball, organize events including dinners, funerals and fundraisers with the American Legion Post 18 #446 and also worked to help families in a time of need through his work with a funeral home.

A visitation will be held on Tuesday, July 12 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Funeral Chapel in Bloomington at 3000 East 3rd Street. A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, July 13 starting at 11 a.m. at Ivy Tech Bloomington at 200 Daniels Way.

The department asks anyone interested in providing fire apparatus for the procession from the service to the burial site to contact Deputy Chief George Cornwell at gcornwell@monroefd.org or by calling (812) 361-8110 no later than July 11.

“On behalf of our department and the family, I just want to thank everyone for their support. People have been coming out from every part of the world. Again, this is a testament to Bob of how many people he touched,” said Moore.

About organ and tissue donation

According to the Indiana Donor Network, one tissue donor can heal more than 75 people. Tissues can be donated for reconstructive surgical procedures including:

  • Skin heals burn victims or patients with serious infections
  • Veins can be used to help restore circulation
  • Bones help prevent the need for amputation
  • Corneas to restore eyesight
  • Ligaments, tendons and cartilage restore mobility

“There’s a reason that we refer to organ and tissue donation as the gift of life and to me, it’s the ultimate gift, it’s the gift of life and it is the gift that keeps on giving,” said Pruitt.

When a person signs up to become an organ donor at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), they are also signing up to become a tissue donor, Pruitt explained.

“It’s that idea that kindness even is free and that even kindness has a ripple effect,” she added.

The entire process is a delicate matter and one that Pruitt said her team treats as such. She wants to help make sure people understand how it goes, in case they are interested in becoming a donor themselves because anyone, regardless of age, can donate tissue if they are medically suitable at the time of their death.

“The biggest thing I’d want people to know, specifically about tissue donation, is that there is no age limit. While there are some medical criteria to worry about, we always say, leave it up to the professionals. If this is something that you want to see from yourself in the future or your loved one would have wanted, just say yes,” Pruitt said.

She explained, tissue donation must be initiated within 24 hours of a person’s death, and unlike organs, donated tissues can be processed and stored for an extended amount of time.

“It’s kind of like that idea that what’s really important is what you do when no one’s looking. I think, for instance, you can really see that in tissue donation,” said Pruitt.

Behind the scenes, what you may not know, is that if a family is unable to observe a moment of silence before a recovery takes place, mainly due to the tight timeline when it comes to tissue donation, the medical staff make sure that person is honored and respected.

“What people don’t typically know is prior to any recovery taking place, we actually hold our own moment of silence, said Pruitt.

Pruitt said their care team works to help not only in the moments before, but after a donation takes place, including providing grief services for children.

“It’s really a beautiful thing that we can offer a family to come together and look at this — we kind of like to look it as we can take someone’s worst nightmare and turn it into someone’s miracle,” said Pruitt.

People interested in signing up to become an organ donor can do so by visiting Donate Life Indiana’s website.