SDPD officer hopeful for new kidney donor match

It was quite a blow when San Diego police Officer Art Calvert found out this week that dispatcher Debra Ballard was not a match, after all, to donate a kidney to him.

What seemed like a sure thing fell apart just days before the transplant surgery scheduled for Wednesday.

The reason: Calvert’s blood antibodies had changed after he received a dozen or more transfusions in the past year, he said at a Friday news conference with Ballard at his side.

“When they did the final blood match on Monday … they got a bad reaction. Basically, my blood and Debra’s blood didn’t match any longer,” said Calvert, who had been anticipating the transplant for nearly two years. “There was a probability of rejection, so they just called off the surgery.”

The decision puts Calvert back where he started, in desperate need of a life-saving transplant.

Calvert has suffered from renal kidney disease for decades and has received transplants from his mother and sister already. When the second donated organ failed after seven years, Calvert pinned hopes on Ballard, a work colleague who came forward quickly to offer one of her own.

They both started working at the San Diego Police Department nearly 25 years ago. Calvert, now a detective and a past member of the mayor’s personal detail, is set to retire in October.

Anyone with blood type A or O who is interested in being tested as a potential donor can go to the UC San Diego Medical Center’s website, www.ucsdlivingdonor.org. Once on the site, personal information is given, then under “named recipient,” one enters Art Calvert with date of birth 10-11-1963.

Applicants will go through a blood test and could go on to undergo a CT scan, counseling and other doctor visits.

Ballard advised potential donors not to wait. “That process takes five or six months to get tested and see if you’re a good match,” she said. “They need to make sure you’re compatible physically and mentally.”

“If you can’t help me, help somebody else,” added Calvert, who undergoes frequent dialysis. “I’ll just keep fighting the fight.”

pauline.repard@sduniontribune

Twitter: @pdrepard

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