A Police Officer’s Renewal Through the Gift of Tissue Donation

Nick Tolsma | Tissue Recipient

Nick has been a dedicated police officer in Colorado for 18 years. When not on duty, the married father of two enjoys riding his dirt bike, a passion that began when he was a child. Just before starting his career in law enforcement, he broke his collarbone while dirt biking and needed a metal plate for the repair. During his swearing-in ceremony, he couldn’t raise his shoulder to take the oath due to the injury. However, the collarbone eventually healed, and Nick resumed dirt biking and serving his community.

Fast forward to October 20, 2023: Nick decided to ride with friends. Unfortunately, he was thrown over the handlebars, suffered a concussion, and broke his collarbone again. The original repair plate had been bent, exacerbating the injury. Everyday activities like sleeping and shoveling snow became painful. Most significantly, Nick couldn’t lead his team of officers or participate in critical missions, including tracking down a triple homicide suspect.

“It kind of hit home. I was missing out on not being able to protect the community, lead my team, and performing critical tactical missions.”

After undergoing surgery on November 10th, Nick’s collarbone received a much-needed upgrade. Surgeons replaced the damaged plate and utilized a bone graft from a tissue donor to repair the injury. Just six weeks later, Nick was back on full duty, ready to serve his community once again.

Reflecting on this swift recovery, Nick ponders whether it’s due to new medical technology, advances in medicine, or the donor tissue itself. He compares it to his first collarbone break 18 years ago, which took months to heal. This time, the healing process was remarkably faster.

Expressing deep gratitude, Nick made sure to thank his donor’s family for their life-changing gift. His own experiences with grief and witnessing tragedy during his police duties make him even more appreciative of donors and their families. Nick acknowledges the immense impact of their decisions, especially when made during the most challenging moments in their lives.

“Just the gratitude of others being willing to say yes,” said Nick. “To help others out in the worst time of their lives. I’ve been there. I lost my sister when she was young and it’s by far the worst thing our family has had to endure. But from this great loss, there can be a glimmer of hope for other families.  I am forever grateful to donors and their families especially when their decisions are made during the hardest times in their lives.” 

Nick’s journey continues—he serves as a police officer, enjoys fatherhood, and indulges in his passion for dirt biking. His story stands as a powerful reminder of how organ and tissue donation profoundly affect both individual lives and entire communities.