DALLAS — The tiny white scar on Truman Bradshaw's right arm reminds him of the disease that threatens now to kill him.
"You can still see the bite mark where the guy bit me," he said. "I've had it for 24 years. I see it every day. It reminds me."
Twenty-four years ago, when Bradshaw was a police officer in Blue Mound, a scuffle with a drunk changed his future.
"I remember just like it was yesterday," Bradshaw said. "During the process of the fight, trying to get him handcuffed and taken to jail, he bit me on my arm. It was just a routine struggle, really; then I noticed my arm was bleeding."
Bradshaw initially cleaned the wound with peroxide.
Four days later, he went to the hospital feeling sick and exhausted. He was diagnosed with the hepatitis C virus.
Doctors treating him now at Methodist Dallas Medical Center say human bites causing disease are very rare.
"Rabies is transmitted that way," said Dr. Edward Dominguez, an infectious disease specialist. "So we do know that in certain situations, bites can transmit enough virus to cause an infection like this."
Dr. Dominguez says the hep C virus has permanently damaged Bradshaw's liver, causing cirrhosis.
He now also has Stage IV cancer and is in desperate need of a liver transplant.
"He's very sick," said Dr. Dominguez. "He is very near the top of the transplant list. And that fluctuates depending on infection."
A secondary infection this week nearly ended Bradshaw's life.
"I never thought a bite could lead to someone's downfall," the ex-cop said. "It's like a life sentence for me."
Bradshaw considers it a miracle that he's still alive. And he holds no ill will toward the man who infected him with a potentially deadly disease more than two decades ago.
Bradshaw knows he'll never be a cop again,but he's still fighting the good fight, raising awareness of organ and blood donation.
"I've gone through approximately 55 units of blood this week alone," he says, awknowledging each anonymous donor who helped save his life.
He hopes each hour will bring more people signing up for both blood and organ donation.
He also hopes for the joy of hearing the Texas Tech fight song play on his cell phone. That's his signal that a new liver — and a new life — is on the way.