SAN ANTONIO – The legacy of San Antonio police Officer Robert Deckard would not only be making the ultimate sacrifice for his community but also saving the lives of four people he never met.
Deckard was shot during a chase in Atascosa County in December of 2013. He died 13 days later.
Gathered around other family members, Jane Williams, Deckard’s aunt, recently shared the story of what his donation meant to them.
“It was important to us to see that Bobby's life was not for nothing. Not that it was for nothing because he was a great officer and he loved being an officer — he was meant to do that — but to know that there is still more of him that he's still giving means so much," Williams said.
Through the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, or TOSA, Deckard donated his heart, liver and both kidneys.
“There is a huge need here in Texas,” said Clarissa Thompson, TOSA's senior communications coordinator. “Eleven-thousand men, women and children are currently awaiting a lifesaving transplant.”
Thomson said 22 Texans die every day while on wait lists.
“We've lived through seeing how it helps other people,” Williams said. “It's the most wonderful thing to do.”
Deckard’s family relied heavily on the support of the SAPD Family Assistance Unit immediately after his death and in the years since. That support was even crucial even during the donation process, Williams said.
“I call it the calling within the calling,” San Antonio police Officer Doug Greene said. “You’re called to be a police officer, but you’re also called to serve other police officers in their time of need.”
TOSA explained to Deckard’s family that it was possible to meet the recipients of his organs if they wished.
“It took us a couple of years to get ready to do that,” Williams said.
A phone call later evolved into a face-to-face meeting with the man who received Deckard’s heart.
“He had been on dialysis for 21 days and was not expected to live had he not received it,” Williams said. “He had two young children also, as Bobby did.”
Williams and her family worried they might run out of things to talk about during their first meeting, but the visit with the recipient would last three hours without much of a break in conversation.
“He is living such a rich, full life now, and that gives you so much pleasure," she said.
Williams and the publicly unidentified recipient even enjoyed lighthearted moments after sharing a picture of how muscular and “bulked up” Deckard was.
“He sends a text back and goes 'Oh, so now I understand why the surgeon said that,’” recalled Williams. “I said, ‘What did he say?’ He said, 'You’re getting a Ferrari heart. Isn’t that so cool?'”
“I have some recipients who are 26, 27 years out post-transplant,” Thompson said. “Can you imagine how many memories they've made from that special gift from that donor?”
Williams said each recipient the family has talked to asks the same question:
“'How do I thank you for my life?' They said its one of the hardest things. And I told them, ‘You just did,’” Williams said.
You can become an organ donor when renewing your Texas driver’s license or by visiting www.donatelifetexas.org.