SOUTHLAKE (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas firefighter is giving the gift of life – even after his death.
Justin Spieker died in 2013, but, thanks to organ donation, he has helped more than 150 people around the world.
Spieker’s mission in life was to help people; a calling that lead him to the Southlake Fire Department as a firefighter and paramedic.
“Always loved people. Always liked to help people, and that’s one of the reasons why he wanted to be a fireman,” says his father, John Spieker.
What the 28-year-old couldn’t have known is that calling would continue in death. A rare blood clotting disorder took his life suddenly in 2013. But his eye, tissue and organ donations have improved the lives of 163 people.
“Two cornea recipients, both of whom are in the local area, 14 skin donors and 147 bone recipients,” says Drew Timmons with UT Southwestern Medical Center.
“Tt brought me to tears, because Justin wanting to help people, here he’s passed and he’s still helping people,” says Spieker.
It’s a gift so extraordinary that UT southwestern created an educational poster and presented it Friday to the fire department. John Spieker flew in from Michigan to see it – and to share some memories with his son’s fellow firefighters.
“He had a dry sense of humor, and he was a funny guy and stuff, but in there was someone who really liked to help people,” says firefighter Jon Casey.
“It’s a huge honor to be here and remember him and seeing he’s still helping people beyond the grave,” says firefighter Kevin Barry.
Spieker was able to donate so much tissue in part because he was in great shape. But his family hopes his story encourages everyone to give life in death.
“I think it’s just his legacy being fulfilled,” says Spieker.
A copy of the poster also hangs at ut southwestern. This one will go to Station 2, where Spieker worked. His family was also given a copy.
Anytime you register to be an organ donor, eye and tissue donation is also included. Eye and tissue donations go to millions of people around the world every year.