This week the Hope Arkansas Police Department is remembering one of their own. Sgt. David Johnson (D.J.) passed away last weekend. He's one of more than 100 people who have died from the West Nile virus in the U.S. this year.
However, this wasn't the first time Johnson wrestled death. Two years ago he beat it... Thanks to his close friend and fellow officer, Sgt. Daniel Oller. The two friends who shared an office and a love for police work also shared a kidney. When Johnson needed a transplant to save his life a few years ago, Oller gave his without hesitation.
"I had a brother that had leukemia, and he passed away when he was 8 years old," explained Oller.
Back then, Oller donated bone marrow to give his brother a little more time.
"When I heard about D. J. I thought a lot about that and how it was a bad situation that was easier for my family because people cared enough to do something to help us," he said.
Oller got tested to see if he was a match even though at the time he didn't think he would be.
"I had heard people say it's pretty rare for a black person to match up with a white person close enough to where they could donate the kidney. We were over a 90% match on everything. He (the surgeon) told me that was the closest match between a black male and a white male who were unrelated that he had ever seen."
Hope Arkansas Police Chief J. R. Wilson says their unlikely match brought the community together in an incredible way, breaking down racial tensions in the small Arkansas town.
"Events like what Sgt. Oller and Sgt. Johnson did make all the difference in the world because people see that now we live in a new age, we live in an age where white people, black people, Hispanic people, we want to be together and we're coming together as a community," said Wilson.
He thinks that's one reason why Johnson's last few years were so important. He got to teach others what he and Oller already knew. While they weren't blood, they were brothers.
Johnson's funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Hope, Arkansas.
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