EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — More than 100-thousand Americans are currently waiting for a kidney transplant.
And more than three thousand patients are added to the list each month.
A new campaign is underway to recruit kidney donors and the first ones the campaign targets are first responders.
26-year-old South-Central Pennsylvania volunteer firefighter Bethany Shields has a buddy a kidney buddy a fellow firefighter alive and well because she donated one of her kidneys to him.
“He is the most giving and selfless person I think I’ve ever seen or witnessed so I decided if there was something I could do, I was going to do it,” said Bethany Shields a Living kidney donor and volunteer at Friendship Hose Co. 1 Newville, Cumberland county.
Shields got tested to be a potential kidney donor and found out she was a match with Charles Westcott. He was suffering from kidney failure and was on dialysis for ten hours a day. The transplant surgery happened last September.
“Charlie and I always joke it’s like we’re connected now. The biggest thing was just relief that knowing that he was able to start doing things again,” Shields added.
One year later, Shields is helping promote the campaign called ‘Expand your Legacy Become a Living Kidney Donor’.
It’s a collaborative effort by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s first responder center of excellence, and the Knox company. It encourages firefighters to learn how they can become a living kidney donor, and help someone in need of a transplant live a long and healthy life.
“We’re releasing this campaign to address it within the firefighting community but also to the general public through these interviews to tell people that they can become a kidney donor and they can save a life, and that’s really what firefighting is about,” says Ron Siarnicki the
Executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
He considers the ‘expand your legacy’ campaign a good opportunity for firefighters to increase their commitment to their communities.
“There are a lot of people out there who need help and we need to be able to do something to help them,” continued Siarnicki.
Now, there’s one less person in need thanks to Shields who expanded her legacy.
“It was just a big sigh of relief knowing that we could do that,” said shields
While this particular organ donor campaign is relatively new… Organizers say the feedback has been pretty positive.
Head to Kidney.Org to learn more about “Expand your legacy” and the difference you can make in a patient’s life by donating a healthy kidney.