Coming from a large household, Donnie protected his family from the drunken rages of their father until he left, causing them to be looked after by their sister Kelly. However, when Kelly became involved with Luca Brasi, Donnie disowned her.
O'Rourke and his brothers attempted to shoot Brasi in 1933, but their attack only succeeded in wounding two of his men. Brasi took a vicious revenge, tying up Donnie and telling him to call his brother Willie down from their room so Brasi can kill him however Donnie refused. Brasi then used Donnie as a punching bag to make Donnie call Willie down. Before leaving Brasi ties a rag that had been down the pants of the clap-ridden Vinnie Vaccarelli which caused Donnie to go blind.
Donnie lay in blindness for several months, while in the meantime his brothers and sister were killed, before Luca Brasi finally finished him off.