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Firefighter Donates Kidney To Another

By Misty Volaski

There’s an old saying about firefighters: they don’t preach the brotherhood of man. They live it.
That’s something Josh Henderson takes to heart. A 2000 Nordhoff High School graduate, Hender-son has been an engineer with the Fresno Fire Department for more than six years, and knows a thing or two about taking care of his fire “family.”
Earlier this year, Hender-son’s fellow firefighter, Gary Schafer, went in for a checkup and was found to have only 13 percent of normal kidney function. Dialysis or a transplant seemed inevitable. So when Henderson heard the Fire Department was seeking volunteers to test for a possible match, he didn’t hesitate to sign up.
“It was a pretty easy decision for me,” he said nonchalantly. “Others got tested too. I was just the better match.”
“It came down to Josh and one other guy, depending on their physicals, but Josh ended up being the guy,” said Schafer. “I just felt very relived that it was going to work out. I was really close to dialysis.”
Fresno Fire Capt. Miles David Talmage said he wasn’t surprised when he heard Henderson was going to go through with the procedure.
“When he first told me he was going do it, I said, ‘That’s awesome! So are you nervous?’ He just said, ‘No, I have two kidneys. I only need one. And Gary needs one.’ And that was it. No second thoughts. It is an amazing act of generosity, but I have known Josh long enough to know that this wasn’t out of character for him. That’s just the way he is. These are the model firemen, what we all strive to be.”
When Henderson told his family about his decision, his mom, Pam, “… kind of fell apart,” she said. “I said, ‘Oh my God, but we almost lost you two years ago (in a dirt biking accident)!’”
“My mom was kind of worried at first,” Henderson said. “But once I explained the procedure and they got more educated about it, they became a lot more comfortable with it. They were really supportive through the whole thing.”
After several months of testing showed the two to be a perfect match, Schafer and Henderson went to San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center on June 9 for the transplant procedure.
“That’s all they do, is transplants,” said Pam. “The doctors were amazing, the nurses were so helpful. It was an emotional roller coaster, but a great experience. Josh gave Gary his life back.”
“Now Josh is an extension of our family, and our family is an extension of his,” said Schafer. “I’ve got a whole new family — I’ve got a little brother!”
Just after the surgery, Schafer’s kidney function more than doubled, and he is “feeling great,” said Henderson. “We both are!”
Henderson downplayed the healing process. “I’ve had back surgery, knee surgery, lots of surgeries before. This was a pretty straightforward deal. Just

There’s an old saying about firefighters: they don’t preach the brotherhood of man. They live it. That’s something Josh Henderson takes to heart. A 2000 Nordhoff High School graduate, Hender-son has been an engineer with the Fresno Fire Department for more than six years, and knows a thing or two about taking care of his fire “family.” Earlier this year, Hender-son’s fellow firefighter, Gary Schafer, went in for a checkup and was found to have only 13 percent of normal kidney function. Dialysis or a transplant seemed inevitable. So

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