Fallen Pierce County Deputy Dom Calata’s organ donation inspires

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said in a final act of service that Deputy Dom Calata became an organ donor.

SEATTLE — Lonnie Palm was able to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary, walk his daughter down the aisle and hold his newborn grandchild all because an organ donor gave him a second chance at life.

“I had the most emotional feeling I’ve ever had waking up from this surgery and knowing that everything would be okay,” Palm said.

That’s why the organ recipient said the Pierce County Sheriff’s announcement of Deputy Dominique “Dom” Calata’s downfall was particularly emotional.

“In a last selfless act, he’s going to be an organ donor,” Sheriff Ed Troyer said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s sad that he lost his life, but it’s probably one of the most generous things a human can do for another human,” Palm said. “That’s how I feel. It’s just a very emotional feeling.”

Brian Shepard, CEO of the United Network for Organ Sharing, said that for the first time ever, the United States had performed more than 41,000 organ transplants in a single year. This milestone was reached at the end of 2021. For Washington State, there were 793 transplants in 2021, a 9% increase from the previous year.

“It’s a transformative event for these people, restoring people who are terribly sick and really, in many cases, on the verge of death,” Shepard said.

As for Palm, he received a heart transplant in 2020. Sometimes, when he runs errands, he wears a shirt that reads, “Inside me beats another’s heart.” He said the shirt is often a big topic of conversation.

“I hope I spread the word,” Palm said. “You know, if I can get someone signed that wasn’t signed before, maybe it can save someone’s life, you know, it means the world to me.”

Currently, there are over 106,000 names on the national transplant waiting list. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, one donor can save eight lives.

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