NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WTVA) - MHP Sgt. Gary Stanton with Troop F in New Albany is taking his responsibility to save lives to a personal level.
Stanton and Sandy Byrd have been friends since kindergarten.
Gary Stanton (right) and Sandy Byrd graduating from Potts Camp.
Sandy Byrd (center) and Gary Stanton (right) at Sandy's wedding.
“We went to high school together, community college together; we were in a band together," he said. "I was in his wedding, he was in my wedding...pretty much everything a friendship could go through.”
However, while filing for life insurance seven years ago, medical exams turned into doctors warning Byrd to monitor his liver.
"In December [of 2019], I was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma in my liver,” Byrd said.
This news was something that is no match for this pair of best friends.
Stanton has worked for the Mississippi Highway Patrol for 13 years.
“The goal of the agency is to basically save lives, so this is just another avenue to do that,” he said.
For Stanton, he said it was an easy decision, but Byrd said he didn't agree at first.
“It’s an emotional thing," he said. "It means the world. I know that he loves me and he knows that I love him. At the same time, it’s scary that he’s taking this risk for me.”
It is also a difficult decision overall for their families. Both have children under the age of 14.
However, each family is going through this together.
“He doesn’t deserve it," Marcy Byrd, Sandy Byrd's wife, said. "He’s a really good guy. He’s worked really hard in life."
“I know how important Sandy is to all of us, and I know that I would want someone to do that for him,” Kalee Stanton, Gary Stanton's wife, said.
One thing is for sure, Stanton and Byrd are keeping a positive attitude.
“I think my hope for this, you know, other than Sandy, is for people to be willing to explore that option," Stanton said. "Whether it be something this extreme or something just as simple as giving someone a ride to work.”
Byrd's procedure will happen at a hospital in Memphis. Doctors will take 59.5% of Stanton's liver and quickly transplant it into Byrd.
For now, the two said the coronavirus pandemic has not impacted this procedure besides the fact that they are only allowed one visitor.