Accomplishes more off the field through organ donation
FORT WORTH, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs may have accomplished more off the field than he did during an eight-year career in the NFL.
Springs, 54, who died Thursday after being in a coma since 2007, will certainly leave a lasting legacy.
His impact on organ donation, diabetes and kidney disease, especially in the African-American community, was immense, former Cowboys teammate Everson Walls said.
“He touched a lot of people,” said Walls, who donated one of his kidneys to his former teammate in 2007. “His impact was universal. He made a difference. It was like he was sacrificed for that.
“I have had people call and text me and say they donated organs because of what we went through. It’s amazing to be able to leave that kind of legacy.
What a mark he made on society as a whole. Forget sports. This is a real life situation and he was the face of that.
“He is the face of the sacrifice and the strength of people who deal with kidney disease and diabetes.”
Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: “Ron’s life will always be remembered by the joy and laughter that he brought to others and the courage and toughness he displayed until the end. Regardless of the circumstances, he always had a smile for everyone. The Dallas Cowboys have lost a wonderful member of our family, and we share our thoughts and prayers with his family.”
Springs had suffered from diabetes for 16 years and was on the national transplant waiting list since 2004.
The disease led to the amputation of his right foot and the big and middle toes on his left foot, and caused his hands to curl into knots.
He also was forced into a wheelchair and needed dialysis three times a week.
His situation was essentially a death sentence until Walls, who was one of Springs’ best friends, volunteered to donate his kidney.
They underwent a successful transplant surgery in February 2007.
It was the first time a professional athlete donated an organ to a teammate.
What Walls did for Springs became national news. The two became celebrities all over again. A documentary was produced on Walls’ life, featuring the decision to donate his kidney.
Walls and Springs, who were teammates from 1981-84, also were honored in a ceremony before the Cowboys’ 2007 season opener against the Giants.
Things appeared to be going well until Springs went to the hospital to have a cyst removed from his forearm in October.
During surgery, Springs experienced a lack of oxygen and fell into a coma. He never recovered.
Springs played six years with the Cowboys and two with Tampa Bay.