Lennonís last moments revealed
NEW YORK CITY — He held John Lennon’s heart in his hands in a vain attempt to massage it back to life. He broke the tragic news to Lennon’s disbelieving wife, Yoko Ono.
Thirty years after the assassination of former Beatle John Lennon, Dr. Stephan Lynn recalls the singer-songwriter’s final moments. He’s convinced that even today’s advanced medical techniques could not have saved Lennon from a killer’s bullets.
Incredibly, Lynn is the first member of the emergency room staff at Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hospital ever to speak publicly about the evening of Dec. 8, 1980.
Lynn, now 63, recalls the details with a surgeon’s precision. He had just completed his residency and was already head of the ER at the tender age of 33.
I met him at the same spot where Lennon was brought in on a policeman’s shoulder just before 11 p.m., suffering from four bullet wounds. Lynn had just returned home after a 13-hour shift when the hospital called him. He rushed back to work to find Lennon mortally wounded.
“I know that he was dead on arrival when he was brought to the emergency room,” said Lynn, who still works at Roosevelt Hospital. “He had no blood pressure, no pulse, he was not responsive.”
Lynn says the patient “looked nothing like John Lennon,” and he didn’t immediately realize that he was treating one of the most famous men on the planet. Reality only sunk in when Lynn saw Lennon’s ID cards in his wallet, and any lingering doubts were dashed when the unmistakable Yoko Ono rushed into the ER in a panic.
Duty and training kicked in and he did his best to save his famous patient.
“It all happened in 15 minutes,” he recalled. “We opened his chest, we found that his left chest was filled with almost half of the blood in his body. It had infinite numbers of holes.
“There was no way to repair all these blood vessels. We did transfuse blood and I held his heart in my hand to massage it with no results.”
Lennon was pronounced dead at 11:15 p.m. and a heavy silence descended over the emergency room.
Meanwhile, 300 journalists and hundreds of fans gathered outside the hospital, Lynn ordered all medical instruments, sheets and blood-stained clothing to be destroyed. The medical file was sealed in a vault where it remains to this day.
Dr. Lynn is convinced that disgruntled fan Mark David Chapman’s bullets would have been deadly under any circumstances.
“I even think that if this patient would have been shot standing outside an operating room with cardiac surgeons and modern machines ready to go, nothing could have been done to resuscitate him,” said Lynn.
The bullets had caused irreparable damage, and Lynn says the fact that it was police, not paramedics, who carried Lennon into the emergency room, would have made no difference. The doctor said Lennon likely died in front of the Dakota, the apartment he shared with Ono.
“The police said he said a few words in the car, I always doubted that.”
Lynn’s next task was to tell Ono what had happened.
“She refused to accept her husband was dead for nearly five minutes,” Lynn recalled. “She was saying, ‘No it’s not possible, I was with him, you’re lying to me, it’s not true.’ I put my hands behind her head because I was scared she was going to (faint),” Lynn added.
She only accepted the truth when she was brought Lennon’s wedding band.
Ono requested that Lynn delay the death announcement for 30 minutes so that she could return home to break the news to their five-year-old son Sean.
Lynn’s encounter with John and Yoko on that fateful night had not been his first. He lived in the same neighbourhood as the couple and their children attended the same school. But he says he hasn’t seen Ono since the shooting.
“I don’t know what I would say to her,” Lynn said. “I’m not … a high point in her life.”
Lynn’s life was changed forever on that December evening. He recalls walking home at 3 a.m. the following morning, terrified that Chapman might not be the only crazed Lennon fan in New York.
“What if someone ran up to me and said, ‘You’re the doctor who didn’t save Lennon’?
“I felt threatened for a second. Today, I can’t help but think the world would have been a better place had he lived.”
Lennonís last moments revealed