DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Payton McCarty was many things - a Marine, a small business owner, a doting Dad. But, before all of that happened, he and his wife Brittany were Maypearl high school sweethearts.
"I saw him first," admits Brittany with a soft laugh. Brittany is soft spoken and gracious, even as she fights back tears. She's bragging on her husband - calling him an "amazing" Dad to their five-year-old son, Trevor, and three-year-old daughter, Skyler. "He was always involved and he loves our babies," says Brittany, "he would do anything for them."
And then last week, a motorcycle accident made McCarty a hero again. He was an organ donor.
"He was gone," says his brother-in-law Josh Forner, a Dallas police officer and Brittany's older brother, "they revived him and he came back so we could have that closure for three to four days, and so he can be a donor. I really believe it."
Officer Forner says his brother-in-law was more like a brother…and sometimes like a son, often coming to him for advice. So when he learned that McCarty would not recover from his injuries, he knew the man who "loved to serve" would want to give new life to others.
"I told my sister, 'I've got a friend who's in need of kidney'," says Officer Forner. In fact, Forner had already spoken to his family about possibly donating a kidney himself. So with his heart breaking, he phoned his police academy colleague, Officer Bryson Brown.
"And I told him, 'my brother -in- law's in the hospital. He's been in an accident'," recalls Officer Forner. "And the first words out of Brown's mouth were: 'do I need to come up there? Do you need anything?'"
McCarty's family says that kind of selflessness made it easy to donate the lifesaving kidney to a fellow officer that they already respected.
Brown's father, also a retired Dallas police officer, says his son's health is already improving. He's expected to be released from Baylor University Medical Center within the next day or so.
"It's a miracle," says Dwayne Brown. "I thank God for them. I know he would tell you, Brittany, thanks, and I will be forever grateful. And I know he will also."
Although three other patients will also receive organ transplants, there's something special, they say, about their bond with Officer Bryson Brown.
"Bryson's got a son and Payton had a son," said Forner, his voice trembling, "and to know that a father will always be there for his child. Payton had to leave this world and he gave the opportunity for another father to be there for his boy."
Forner intends to keep his brother-in-law's company, McCarty Fabrication, running. But, in the meantime a gofundme account has been established to help support the family. McCarty had no life insurance and was the family's sole support.
(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
for more features.