He Is There When We Need Him But Now He Needs Us


By Toni Lepeska

Tethered to a tube that delivers him oxygen, Southaven police Sgt. Todd Pierce plays a desk role in crime fighting while he waits for a phone to change his life. Or rather, to save it.

He is waiting for a new pair of lungs. For a transplant. For healthy lungs to replace his scarred ones. His co-workers, family, friends and community are pulling for him. On March 25, a benefit will be held for Sgt. Pierce to cover expenses he’ll incur when he gets a transplant.

Diagnosed with nonspecific interstitial pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis, he’s been on the transplant list for almost a year. No longer in a patrol car, he works every day at a desk.

“You’ve got to look up to him. He’s not let this beat him,” said Chief Steve Pirtle. “There’s been days I could look at him and tell he’d rather be in bed, but he’s not asked for any favors.

A 21-year police veteran, the 49-year-old Pierce apparently inherited the condition. His sister also had to have a double lung transplant. Until a few years ago, he was completely healthy. He played soccer. He finished a half marathon. He was active in the gym. He cooked.

“He has to take breaks now,” said his wife, Dawn. “He loves to cook. My favorite dish of his is ‘bang, bang shrimp. And his chocolate chip cookies.”
The couple have a 14-year-old son.

This week, Pierce got the call that a pair of lungs were waiting for him. The first time that happened, doctors determined he wasn’t a match after all.
Just as Pierce and his wife approached Birmingham, they received another call. The doctors had re-evaluated the situation. The lungs wouldn’t work for him. Pierce returned home.

“His faith has kept him going,” said Jamey Pirtle, Chief Pirtle’s wife.

Pirtle and other police wives organized a fall event, Walk for a Cop, which included a run to raise money for the police benevolence fund. They also are organizing the upcoming event, a gospel singing benefit at the Southaven campus of Colonials Hills Church.

Organizers expect the benevolence fund to help Pierce with expenses when he gets a transplant. After the anticipated operation, Pierce will be required to reside near the University of Alabama-Birmingham for eight to 12 weeks while he recovers, his wife said.

Any monies raised at the upcoming fundraiser above Pierce’s needs will go back into the benevolence funds for future officer needs, Jamey Pirtle said.
The March 25 benefit will be 1-6 p.m. at the church “Go Center,” 7701 U.S. 51. About 30 musicians are expected.

“It’ll be kind of like the Gaithers, the homecoming format,” Jamey Pirtle said.

A “love-offering admission” will be taken at the door, and an additional love offering taken some time during the concert.

Christians since their childhood, the Pierces attend Colonials Hills’ Hernando campus services.

“The Police Department and City of Southaven have gone beyond,” Dawn Pierce said. “They’ve made arrangements where he can still work. Our church … has been amazing as well … He’s blown away by the love and support, and then we have a community of friends that’s taken care of their own.”