TAMPA, Fla. — A fallen Highlands County deputy will save at least six people by being a registered organ donor.
Deputy William Gentry Jr. died at Lee Memorial Hospital on Monday afternoon. He was shot by a suspect while responding to a call in Lake Placid on Sunday.
He was a registered organ donor. He will save the lives of six people and his tissue donation could help up to 70 others.
"He's actually able to donate his heart, liver, both lungs, and both kidneys," said Betsy Edwards, Senior Public Affairs Coordinator for LifeLink.
Deputy Gentry's law enforcement family gathered outside Lee Memorial on Tuesday. They raised an organ donor flag. It will fly for three days and then be presented to his family.
"I know it's an awful tragedy what occurred, but what is going to come of it, it's just unexplainable and can't be put into words," said Evelyn Legon, an organ recipient.
Evelyn Legon said Deputy Gentry made a selfless decision. About 10 years ago, an organ donor saved her life.
"It meant everything to me. It has changed my perspective on life," said Legon.
Fallen Highlands County Deputy William Gentry was an organ donor. His organs will save 6 lives. Tonight, meet a Tampa woman who received a liver transplant in 2008. She says she can’t explain the gratitude she feels. pic.twitter.com/XmOofA1w1X
— Julie Salomone (@JSalomoneTV) May 9, 2018
Legon contracted Hepatitis and then battled liver cancer. She got a liver transplant at Tampa General Hospital in 2008. Tampa General Hospital ranks as one of the busiest transplant centers in the country.
LifeLink, a local non-profit assisting with organ recovery, said about 18 people die each day nationwide because an organ isn't available in time.
"If I hadn't received my liver transplant when I did, I wouldn't be standing here at this time," said Legon.
Legon hopes Deputy Gentry's family finds comfort knowing he gave others the strength to live.
According to LifeLink, nearly 115,000 patients are on the national organ transplant waiting list. More than 5,300 are listed with Florida Transplant Centers.
For more information on how to be an organ donor visit: www.donatelifeflorida.org.
The Florida Deputy Sheriff's Association has set up a GoFundMe account to help the Gentry family. Click here to support HCSO Deputy William Gentry's family.