Twelve hours after surgery at the Veteran Affairs hospital in Seattle, a 42 year old paralyzed army vet is in a generous mood. “Brent” has decided to donate a precious part of himself.
“I just hope it helps one family,” said Brent, who asked us not to use his last name. “If it helps hundreds, that’d be even better.”
Brent became paralyzed years ago in an accident on an army training obstacle course.
It’s not an organ, or stem cells, but something that to many, might seem a bit odd.
Brent is donating his amputated leg, an infected body part he was forced to part with anyway.
Who would want such a gift? The unlikely recipient is the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. Two deputies came to pick up the leg, hoping it will help train the Intermountain Search dogs.
Brent’s college buddies are now in law enforcement, and gave him the idea to donate his leg to the search team.
“We search for deceased persons or cold cases that have never been solved,” said Robin Moug, chair of the Intermountain Search Dogs. “To bring closure to families is our mission.”
Moug and her team are using the gift to train their cadaver dogs. They demonstrate by hiding the plastic wrapped leg under brush and debris. Max, one of their dogs, tries to find it and does it in a few seconds.
Trainers usually resort to using smaller tissue samples and teeth. They say a human leg gives the dogs a much more realistic sample to imprint on.
“The scent source is so different of a larger amount of source,” said Moug.
While the idea may be hard to stomach, extensive training with this tool can help the cadaver dogs provide closure to an important case. Their handlers say Brent gave a rare and valuable gift.
“I just want to thank him and his family,” said Moug. “This is an amazing opportunity, and hopefully it will open the door for us to continue our work.”