Art Calvert and Debra Ballard. Image from NBC San Diego broadcast

A good police dispatcher can be counted on to help an officer get through the diciest of situations.

Debra Ballard is taking that commitment to another level. Next week, the 24-year member of the San Diego Police Department‘s Communications Division will give up one of her kidneys to give an ailing law enforcement colleague a new shot at a better, longer life.

SDPD Officer Art Calvert, who for decades has suffered from renal kidney disease, has been waiting almost two years for an organ donor — his third, including his mother and sister.

He said he was “just overwhelmed” that Ballard would make such a serious sacrifice for him, and do so with such aplomb.

“She calls me, just as cool as can be, saying, ‘Hey, I’m a match — when do you want to do this?,’” the officer told reporters Tuesday afternoon outside downtown SDPD headquarters.

After deciding she wanted to give a lifesaving gift to Calvert, with whom she once worked at the SDPD’s Northern Division station, Ballard underwent extensive testing that ultimately deemed her an organ-donor match.

The two co-workers are scheduled to take part in one final blood test before undergoing transplant surgery Feb. 7.

In explaining her weighty decision, Ballard said the nature of dispatchers’ duties creates a kind of  “maternal instinct” that makes them “just want to take care” of people.

“As a spiritual person, I believe everything happens for a reason,” she said. “If I can save his life, why would I not?”

–City News Service

Show comments