Off-Duty Milwaukee Police Officer Gives the Gift of Life as His Family Prepares to Donate Organs

WAUWATOSA, Wis. — The family of a Milwaukee police officer is choosing to give the gift of life to others after the officer was gravely injured in an off-duty crash. James Nowak was involved in a crash with a semitrailer at Pennsylvania and Oak in Oak Creek Sunday night. Police reported that the truck was attempting to make a U-turn when Nowak’s car collided with the side of it. Late Wednesday night, the Oak Creek Police confirmed Nowak’s passing.

Family members shared that the crash caused severe fractures to Nowak’s skull and resulted in minimal brain activity. Despite the devastating circumstances, Nowak’s family found a silver lining – Nowak had checked the organ donor box on his license, allowing his family to carry out his wishes.

Nowak’s decision to be an organ donor highlights the hope that these families bring to patients in need. A representative from the organization Versiti, which works directly with families in these situations, discussed the impact of organ donation, stating that a single donor can save up to seven lives.

Following the tragic news, Nowak’s family held an honor walk to accompany him from the intensive care unit to the operating room. Nowak worked out of Milwaukee Police District 4 and was the partner of fallen officer Peter Jerving, who died in the line of duty in February. Nowak leaves behind a wife, who recorded a tearful message to her husband in a YouTube video.

In the midst of grappling with the emotional and financial strain, the family has created an online fundraiser to help cover medical and funeral costs. This gesture not only showcases the immense challenges that the family is facing but also highlights the outpouring of support from their community during this difficult time. Understanding the impact of Nowak’s decision to donate his organs sheds light on the selflessness and generosity that exists even in the face of tragedy.