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A Gift of Life and Music

Musician David S. Ware, of Scotch Plains, recovered from a kidney transplant...with a little help from his fans.

Posted December 14, 2009 by Tammy La Gorce

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David S. Ware
David Ware performing on tenor sax in October at the Abrons Arts Center in New York.
Photo by John Rogers.

These days, it’s routine for musicians to e-mail fans for support. David S. Ware, 60, a tenor saxophonist from Scotch Plains, got more than support. He got a new kidney.

Ware—who apprenticed with Sonny Rollins in the 1960s and went on to cut more than a dozen records with his David S. Ware Quartet—began developing kidney trouble in 1998; by the end of 2008, his survival had become dependent on finding a donor. After Ware’s longtime producer, Steven Joerg, sent an urgent e-mail to 950 fans around the world, a Florida woman, Laura Mehr, stepped forward early in 2009 to offer her kidney. By May, Ware was recovering after a successful transplant at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

The way Ware sees it, this gift of life came not just from his donor but from music itself: Mehr’s husband, who died in 2007, had been a fan and acquaintance of Ware’s. Laura Mehr did not know Ware, but she knew his music through her husband.

“If it wasn’t for my music, I wouldn’t have had a donor,” says Ware. Having regained his health, Ware, a graduate of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, is planning to release an experimental jazz album this spring. “It’s a very dense style, with me on three saxophones,” he says. “It’s a sound I really wanted to pursue.”

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