Ron Springs: From Triumph to Tragedy

RIP, Ron Springs
RIP, Ron Springs

Ron Springs was pronounced dead yesterday.

After dying on Oct. 12, 2007.

I wrote about Springs' sad plight in a March 2010 Observer cover story. But you already knew his tale.

Former Cowboys' running back who became a national poster boy -- along with Everson Walls -- for warm-n-fuzzy feelgoods when he was on the receiving end of America's first kidney transplant between pro teammates.

After the transplant and a Diabetes-related leg amputation had previously gone smoothly at Dallas' Medical City, Springs in '07 went in for what all involved figured would be a smooth, easy procedure to remove a chronic, necrotic wound on his left forearm near the elbow (a Band-Aid covered it in the above photo from Sept. '07).

This is the part where you repeat the old line: It's only minor surgery if it ain't happening to you.

Don't worry," Springs tells his wife, Adriane, on the afternoon of October 12, 2007, "we'll be home in time for dinner."

Springs never left the hospital.

Before surgery commenced catastrophic problems occured during the administering of anesthesia, blocking oxygen from Springs' brain and shoving him into a coma from which he never recovered. Since that afternoon he's "lived" basically non-responsive in a persistent vegetative state in a private room of Medical City's intensive care unit.

Said Walls for my cover story:

"It just breaks my heart. This was supposed to be an inspirational story. It was supposed to be a landmark victory for organ donors. And it still should be...the surgery was a success. The kidney is doing great. But when I bring up Ron's name these days, some people are like 'Oh, I thought he was dead.'"

I've bumped into Everson several times since then, at Duke's after a Cowboys game last season, at Super Bowl XLV and at last month's draft at Cowboys Stadium. Each time I hesitantly asked for a Springs' update.

"Same," he'd say. "We're still hopeful, but ... "

Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a statement:

"Ron's life will always be remembered by the joy and laughter that he brought to others and the courage and toughness he displayed until the end. Regardless of the circumstances, he always had a smile for everyone. The Dallas Cowboys have lost a wonderful member of our family, and we share our thoughts and prayers with his family."

Springs, who officially died of a heart attack, leaves behind wife, Adriane, a son, two daughters, the Gift for Life Foundation and tons of fans who are today convinced more than ever that life ain't fair.

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