WASHINGTON (AP)-Everson Walls insists he's no hero for giving a kidney to former Dallas Cowboys teammate Ron Springs. Pretty much anyone could have done it.
``It's one thing about being called a hero, you are really put up on a pedestal,'' the former star cornerback said. ``You don't want to put that pedestal up too high, because we want everyone to realize that as long as you have two good kidneys that you can qualify to become a living organ donor.''
Walls appeared Tuesday before a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He spoke on behalf of an organ donation bill sponsored by the subcommittee's chairman, Rep. William ``Lacy'' Clay, D-Mo.
Springs also was scheduled to testify, but Walls said he was undergoing rehabilitation.
Clay's bill would give grants to states' organ donor programs and track the long-term health of people who have donated organs.
The Everson Walls and Ron Springs Gift For Life Act of 2007 also would establish a clearinghouse for states on organ donation. The bill's cost is estimated at about $10 million.
Clay said 97,000 patients are waiting for organ donation and last year, 6,000 people in the U.S. died while awaiting transplants.
``I am convinced Congress must play a vital role in elevating the issue of organ and tissue donation to become a national priority,'' Clay said.
Walls donated his kidney to Springs in March as Springs' health was deteriorating from diabetes. Walls said Springs had known about his failing kidney while in the NFL and had denied it for some years.
The kidney may last 20 years or could only last five, Walls said. But he said the day after Springs got his kidney, his eyes seemed clearer, his vision better. The color of his once ashen face ``came to life.''
``That's one thing that gives me joy as a donor is to see him,'' Walls said.
Springs and Walls had been friends since Walls' first training camp with the Cowboys. They played together from 1981-84 and went to other teams after the Cowboys, but they and their families remained friends.
Walls said he particularly wants to reach out to minority and underserved communities, as well as retired NFL players who are too proud to get checked out or treated.
The foundation's long-term goal is to deploy mobile units that bring the kidney checkups to people. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, was introducing him to possible sponsors, he said.
Springs and Walls are relying on their celebrity to help boost their efforts.
``Any time athletes are involved in something, whether good or bad, whether you are talking about dogfighting or you are talking about organ donation, it's always at the top of the news list,'' Walls said. ``We want to make sure because of our status we are able to keep it there.''
The bill is H.R. 3635.
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On the Net: To find bills: http://thomas.loc.gov
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