According to former teamate and organ donor Everson Walls, a wake for former Cowboys running back Ron Springs is set for Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. at the Sparkman-Hillcrest Funeral Home in Dallas. Walls said the funeral will be held at 10 am Thursday at Covenant Church on Trinity Mills in Carrollton.
Springs, 54, passed last Thursday at Medical City Dallas after being in a coma since 2007.
Springs played six years with the Cowboys, most notably serving at the lead blocker for Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett and catching passes out of the backfield from Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach.
But his impact on organ donation, diabetes and kidney disease, especially in the African-American community, will be his lasting legacy, Walls said.
"He touched a lot of people," said Walls, who donated one of his kidneys to his former teammate to sae his life in 2007. "His impact was universal. He made a difference. It was like he was sacrificed for that.
"I have had people call and text me and say they donated organs because of what we went through. It's amazing to be able to leave that kind of legacy. What a mark he made on society as a whole. Forget sports. This is a real life situation and he was the face of that.
"He is the face of the sacrifice and the strength of people who deal with kidney disease and diabetes."
Springs had suffered from diabetes for 16 years and was on the national transplant waiting list since 2004. The disease led to the amputation of his right foot and the big and middle toes on his left foot, and caused his hands to curl into knots. He also was forced into a wheelchair and needed dialysis three times a week.
His situation was essentially a death sentence until Walls, who was one of Springs' best friends, volunteered to donate his kidney. They underwent a successful transplant surgery in February 2007.
It was the first time a professional athlete donated an organ to a teammate.
The only other documented cases involving former pro athletes as donors include Greg Ostertag giving a kidney to his sister in 2002 when he was playing for the Utah Jazz, and basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson donating a kidney to his daughter in 1997. Basketball players Alonzo Mourning and Sean Elliott are among pro athletes who have received an organ.
Things appeared to be going well until Springs went to the hospital to have a cyst removed from his forearm in October of 2007. During surgery, Springs experienced a lack of oxygen and fell into a coma. He never recovered.
Springs is survived by his wife Adriane, his son Shawn, daughter Ayra Springs Foster, and daughter Ashley.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.