Dispatcher Offers Up Kidney to SDPD Officer in Need of Transplant

SDPD Officer Art Calvert has been in need of a kidney transplant since 2016.

A San Diego Police officer in desperate need of a life-saving kidney transplant has found a compatible donor after years of searching. It turns out, the donor is a police department co-worker.

Officer Art Calvert, 54, suffered total kidney failure 25 years ago. He received a donor kidney from his mother and a second donor kidney from his sister. Typically, donor kidneys will last between 15 to 20 years. Calvert has been in need of a transplant since 2016.

Debra Ballard, 47, has worked in police communications for the past 24 years. Calvert has been a police officer for more than 24 years. Early in his career, the pair worked together while Calvert was assigned to the police department’s Northern Division.

“As a dispatcher working the radio, you get this maternal instinct where you just want to take care of them,” said Ballard.

“We’ve always been acquaintances. Out of the blue, she calls me just as cool as can be, ‘Hey, I’m a match, when do you want to do this?’ I almost fell out of my chair,” Calvert said.

Ballard first learned of Calvert’s need for a transplant in 2016 and learned she was a compatible match later that year. However, Calvert faced health complications that have delayed the transplant, which is now scheduled for Feb. 7 at UC San Diego’s Jacob Hospital in La Jolla.

Calvert worked special mayoral security prior to his illness, essentially serving as a bodyguard for San Diego’s last four mayors.

“If I can save his life, why would I not? That’s just the way I look at it. I’m a spiritual person and I believe that everything happens for a reason, so if it’s meant to be, then it’s going to be,” Ballard said.

“You’re giving me my life back. I get to see my kids grow up and a lot of different things,” Calvert told Ballard.

“I’m overwhelmed, just overwhelmed, with just the generosity, that she wanted to do something like this for me,” added Calvert.

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