Deputy kidney transplant successful

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March 23, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---A deputy who lost his life is saving another.

Deputy Eric Sikes died after a car crash earlier this week. He was on his way to work when his patrol car ran off the road and into the trees near the Burke-Richmond County line.

But now his kidney will help keep Deputy David James alive.

17 years ago, Deputy James was shot five times on active duty. Recently, a transplanted kidney he got from his mother started to fail.

Now he has new hope, thanks to one family's generosity.

An early morning crash on the way to work left Deputy Eric Sikes with injuries that would soon take his life.

In an amazing twist of fate, Sgt. Robbie Silas says Sikes was a perfect match for Deputy David James.

"It's a great gift of life when families try to do those things for other people," Sgt. Silas said.

Silas has known Deputy James for 20 years. He has worked closely with James' mother, Carol Day, and the rest of the family since his transplanted kidney started failing over a month ago.

He held a fundraiser last night, and 600 people turned up to support James. That's when they heard about the possibility.

"It was unbelievable," Sgt. Silas said. "We weren't sure what was going to happen. We knew things could be good, but didn't want to get your hopes up."

Silas says Sikes' family decided to donate his kidney as soon as he died, and it turned out to be a perfect match.

On Valentines Day this year, James told us a match is what he's been hoping and praying for.

"Being an officer means a great deal for me and my family," he said.

Now he'll be able to continue his career and life with his family...all thanks to the ultimate act of generosity from Sikes' family.

"It was overwhelming," Sgt. Silas said. "He just got teary-eyed. It's something he's been waiting on, and when he found's just a storybook ending."

It's a bittersweet day for James' mother. She says she's overwhelmed with the news her son will be okay, but she's also very sad for Deputy Sikes' family.

The transplant was a success. James is currently in good condition at MCG. Recovery could take about a week.

Deputy Sikes' funeral is scheduled for early next week. A viewing is Monday night, March 26, at Thomas King Funeral Home from 6 to 8. The funeral is at 11 am Tuesday at Warren Baptist Church.

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