DALLAS -- Former Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs was recovering Thursday after receiving a kidney donated by former teammate Everson Walls.

The transplant operation was performed Wednesday at Medical City Hospital in Dallas.

A news conference was being planned for Friday on the transplant, which officials believe is the first time former U.S. professional sports teammates have shared an organ.

The only other documented cases involving former pro athletes as donors include Greg Ostertag giving a kidney to his sister in 2002 when he was playing for the Utah Jazz, and basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson donating a kidney to his daughter in 1997. Basketball players Alonzo Mourning and Sean Elliott are among pro athletes who have received an organ.

Springs, 50, has suffered from diabetes for 16 years and has been on the national transplant waiting list since 2004. The disease has led to the amputation of his right foot and the big and middle toes on his left foot, and caused his hands to curl into knots. He also was forced into a wheelchair and needed dialysis three times a week.

Providing his body accepts the new kidney, he'll no longer need dialysis and can expect his hands to regain their normal form. He also should again be able to walk on his own.

Walls, 47, volunteered to be tested after things fell through with two of Springs' relatives who were perfect matches.

"I said, 'Well, look, I know my blood type is the same as his. Why not give it a shot and see what happens?"' Walls told The Associated Press in December.

Springs and Walls became fast friends during Walls' first training camp with the Cowboys. They played together only four years, but their close relationship continued, enhanced by their wives and children being close with each other, too. Both families still live in the Dallas area.

The duo had wanted to keep the transplant quiet until it happened, but worked leaked out in December through Springs' oldest son, Shawn, who plays cornerback -- Walls' old position -- for the Washington Redskins.

March 1, 2007, 2:08 PM ET
Associated Press
I first heard about this last year and have been following it since. Thats got to be the ultimate gift of friendship, to be able to do that to help a friend in need is amazing and rare nowdays.