When 35-year-old military veteran and Pierce County Deputy Dominique “Dom” Calata died in the line of duty last year, his final act of service was to donate his organs, tissues and corneas, saving four lives and healing countless others.

Calata is one of 261 Washington organ donors honored by Gov. Jay Inslee in a ceremony held April 6 at the Capitol building in Olympia. The families of each organ donor received a Gift of Life Award signed by Gov. Inslee, acknowledging the life-saving gifts of their loved ones.

“As stewards of the gift of life, we witness the power of organ donation every day in our work,” said Santokh Gill, president and CEO of LifeCenter Northwest. “We are grateful for the opportunity to honor donors and their families in a formal ceremony and celebrate the second chances they provided to hundreds of others through organ donation.”

Gov. Inslee speaks at Gift of Life ceremony
Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to the families whose loved ones gave the gift of life in 2022.

Calata was commissioned in the US Army after graduating from the ROTC program at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. His military service included several tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, and Calata became a deputy with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department in 2015 while still serving in the National Guard.

He was also a devoted husband and father, a caring son, and a friend to so many. Calata’s vibrance and ability to connect with anyone made him the life of every party. He played the guitar and sang in a church choir. He loved the outdoors, always ready for an adventure. But it was his role as dad that made him the most excited.

“He was all love and fun,” says Dom’s wife, Erin Calata. “He was the best dad.”

Given Calata’s background and desire to help others, it came as no surprise to Erin that her husband was a registered organ donor. But it was the impact of his gifts that took her aback.

“I was surprised at how much Dom was able to provide for others,” shares Erin, who is also a registered organ donor. “You never know what you will be able to give. There’s an opportunity to help a ton of people.”

In addition to donating his organs and tissues, the Calatas donated Dom’s brain to UW Medical for research, helping countless others. Dom will be forever remembered for his legacy of service and lifesaving generosity.

You can make a difference by joining the organ and tissue donor registry and sharing this decision with your family.