Necessary amputation leads to the donation of a lifetime

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by HAYLEY GUENTHNER & KREM.com

kvue.com

Posted on July 20, 2013 at 4:37 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--A local man recently gave the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office one of the most unique gifts they have ever received. He donated his leg so cadaver dogs could train.

Spokane County's Inter Mountain Search Dog Team volunteers spend thousands of hours every year for one reason -- to give answers to families during, what is often the worst time of their lives.

“We search for deceased persons or cold cases that have never been solved, to bring closure to families,” said Robyn Moug.

The handler said bringing closure to families is not always easy. Moug and others undergo extensive training with very real tools.

“We use small amounts of surgically removed tissue,” she said. “Teeth that children have lost because that has the human scent on it.”

However, Moug said those items give off a tiny trace of a scene, which can make if difficult for cadaver dogs to detect. For years, Spokane County authorities have been desperate for a bigger donation of human tissue according to Moug.

“The scent source is so different on a large amount of source, it's incredibly important for us,” she added.

Then about one week ago, Moug received a call about a unique donation.

A man named Brent offered to donate his leg for cadaver dogs to train.

KREM 2 News was invited on the trek to Seattle with Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies to pick-up the donation of a lifetime. Brent spoke with KREM 2 News less than 12 hours after his surgery.

He said doctors spent eight hours removing his leg at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Seattle.

“I just thought it would a good thing to do,” said Brent. “They've always had smaller tissue to work with -- it could give families some closure.”

It was something Brent was so passionate about he gave his only leg.

Brent was paralyzed during a military training accident years ago. He said that is when he lost use of both of his legs. He has been confined to a wheelchair nearly his entire adult life. An infection cost him his other leg, and a similar bone infection was taking over his remaining one. Doctors said the amputation was necessary.

He said a college friend who now works in law enforcement that gave him the idea to donate his remaining leg. One of those friends even traveled to Seattle to help transport the leg to Spokane County.

Brent believes donating his leg was a better option than the alternative. Doctors usually have amputated body parts incinerated as medical waste.
   
“I guess I had the right criminal justice roommates who all went to college together,” said Brent. “I thought they were teasing me at first, but if this works out to help people, great.”

Deputies with the Spokane County Sheriff’s office said they are deeply grateful. They even presented Brent with special coin to show their gratitude.

“I just hope it helps one family. It'd be great if it helps hundreds, that'd be even better,” Brent added.

On average, Spokane County's cadaver dogs are used once a month. Sometimes they even help agencies in North Idaho. Leaders said Brent's donation could be used repeatedly, for several years.

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