CLAREMORE — Cpl. Paul Tucker of the Rogers County Sherrif’s Department was the recipient of the Oklahoma State FOP’s 2018 “P.D. Taylor Member of the Year Award,” at their semi-annual meeting last weekend.
Originally from New Orleans, Tucker moved to Oklahoma in 2006 and started his law enforcement career working at the Mayes County jail, where he was able to get CLEET training and become a Reserve Deputy.
Tucker also worked as a dispatcher for the Pryor Police Department before joining the Rogers County Sheriff's Department in 2011 and was later promoted to Corporal three years ago.
“Growing up in New Orleans, it was obviously a bad area. I seen a lot of bad things as a kid, and that always struck my interest in being a police officer,” says Tucker.
Tucker is not the first member of his family in law enforcement. He has an uncle who is a Texas State Trooper and his maternal great-grandmother was one of the first female officers hired by the New Orleans PD in the 1930s.
Tucker’s award was not the result of his performance on the job, but for going above and beyond his duties. The announcement of his award states...
“This year’s Oklahoma FOP Member of the Year has made extraordinary contributions to his agency, as well as the community for which he so honorably serves as a law enforcement officer. With years of service to the citizens of our Oklahoma, one of his greatest achievements has involved a huge personal sacrifice that he made, which ultimately saved the life of an individual who was dying of medical complications and had no one else to turn to.”
It all started with a Facebook post from a relative of someone at the department.
“I noticed that she had been posting on Facebook about a friend of theirs needing a kidney,” said Tucker. “So I sent her a private message and said ‘Hey, what’s the deal with your friend?’”
They ended up talking over the phone and he found out that her friend, who lives in Tennessee, was suffering from renal failure, and how it affected his life and his family.
“I’m thinking to myself, I’m a father,” says Tucker. “The type of dialysis he was on, which is a tube through the stomach, didn’t allow him do simple things like swim in a pool with his children. Wrapping my mind around that, and not being able to do daily activities that we take for granted, with my own children, I would want someone to help me.”
Tucker talked it over with his wife, who is an ER nurse, and decided to contact Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville for information about donating one of his kidneys.
He received a testing kit which he took to a local medical lab and submitted it back to Vanderbilt. A few weeks later, he was contacted and was told that not only was he a good match for transplant, he was a perfect match, literally a one-in-a-million chance.
“You know, I’m not a very religious person, so I’d call that a clue.” said Tucker. “I was meant to do this. I don’t have any other explanation for it, and we’re going to continue.”
It was a difficult process to prepare for the transplant surgery. Tucker had to go to Nashville and undergo extensive testing, including blood work and kidney function. He was also told that he would have to lose 55 pounds, as his weight could result in medical complications for himself and his own kidneys.
On July 26, 2016, the surgery was a performed successfully. After a two-week recovery at Vanderbilt, Tucker came back to Oklahoma. Three days later he had to be admitted to the hospital for “omental infarction,” an acute abdominal condition resulting from the surgery.
“It was the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said Tucker. “From what I’ve read, and a lot of the sites that I’m now Facebook friends with, it’s really common for the donor to have more issues than the recipient, but I’d do it all over again if I had another one.”
Tucker says he didn’t do this for recognition, but he has noticed that publicity of his action as inspired other officers from across the country to donate their kidneys to people in need of transplants.
"I was raised that if someone needs help and you have the ability to help them, help them,” Tucker said. “Don’t stand over them, help them.”