Arlington (Texas) Police Detective Josh Gowins took his duty as a public servant to new heights on Monday when he donated one of his kidneys to a stranger at HCA-affiliate Plaza Medical Center of Fort Worth. His selfless act launched a kidney swap chain, resulting in a new lease on life for three grateful patients. And to Detective Gowins, “it was a small price to pay to help someone” in need.
“Det. Gowins literally walked through our front doors and said, ‘I am willing to donate a kidney to whoever needs it,” Dr. George Rofaiel, surgical director of transplant services for the Fort Worth Transplant Institute at Plaza Medical Center, said. “It’s the height of grace and generosity for a donor to undergo surgery for somebody he didn’t even know.”
Gowins’ kidney donation enabled the Fort Worth Transplant Institute to coordinate a complicated transplant chain. The eight-year Arlington police officer’s kidney went to a woman whose husband was not a transplant match. The husband then donated a kidney to a stranger – 20-year old Alonso Ruvalcaba, a two-year dialysis patient. Ruvalcaba’s 23-year old brother, Horacio, then donated to 53-year old Jose Morales. The two had never met.
“I’ve been blessed in so many ways,” Gowins, a 36-year old father of one, said. “I wanted to somehow give back to someone else. And the more research I did on the issue, the more I felt compelled to do it.”
“I couldn’t be happier for who it (kidney) went to,” he said.
Every day in the United States, 22 people die waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant. At the Fort Worth Transplant Institute at Plaza Medical Center, the average wait time for a patient who needs a kidney transplant is seven months – among the lowest in the nation. The national average wait time is more than six years.
“The sad fact is that many patients die while waiting for a transplant,” Plaza Medical Center CEO Clay Franklin said. “Living donors, like Josh, help save lives. We were honored to have worked with him and his wife to make the most of their donation.”
Gowins never wavered in his decision to save a life. When asked if he feared a future need for a kidney donation amongst his family, he said, “If the time came when I ever needed a kidney or someone in my family needed a kidney, someone like me will step up and pay it forward.”
After all, it’s a small price to pay for someone in need.
Watch more on Detective Gowins’ donation that launched a kidney swap chain.
In 2015, Plaza Medical Center was part of the largest kidney swap in U.S. history, which involved 70 recipients and donors across the nation, including a Fort Worth patient who received a kidney at Plaza Medical Center.