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'Kidney hero needed': Nelson County E-911 director searching for kidney donor

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Posted at 5:03 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 18:22:26-04

(LEX 18) — A Nelson County man who built his career helping others is now looking for a hero of his own: a "kidney hero."

45-year-old Shawn Gaither is the voice people heard over the phone while he spent six years as a dispatcher. In 2020, he signed on as the county's E-911 director. And at his Bardstown home, he's a family man with two kids ages 17 and 20. He's also the ultimate University of Kentucky fan.

"Never a dull moment," Brooke Gaither, Shawn's wife of nine years, told LEX 18. "Never a dull moment."

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But Shawn, a double amputee, is also experiencing Stage 4 kidney failure as a result of his Type 2 diabetes and multiple surgeries.

"Eventually, it gets to the point where your kidneys say, 'Okay, we're going to need some new ones,'" Shawn said. "And so that's where we are."

His health challenges haven't slowed him down, but Shawn wants to keep going as long as possible and avoid dialysis. That's why he and his wife are spreading this message across town and the Internet: "Kidney Hero Needed." Brooke didn't qualify to give Shawn one of her kidneys, so she decided to be proactive in other ways.

They've hung three banners across Bardstown and shared Shawn's story on social media, hoping the right person finds them. Brooke is taking charge of the outreach, so her husband doesn't have to worry.

"I've had phone calls from people I don't even know, and messages on Facebook, and emails," she said. "So, it's just been really heartwarming."

Until the family receives the ultimate good news of a living kidney donor match from UK Hospital, Shawn says he'll keep working and looking forward to the future that comes with a new kidney.

"I still love going to work, getting out and going shopping, going to the movies, cooking," he said. "I still do everything I love to do."

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"Because I know life doesn't end unless you sit around and dwell on the negative things that happen to you over time."

Shawn Gaither's blood type is AB+, which allows him to receive blood of any type. If you are interested in finding out if you might be a match, contact the UK Transplant Center at (859) 323-2467 and mention Shawn Gaither as the possible recipient. You can also email the Gaither family for more information at kidney4shawn@yahoo.com.

You can find more information on kidney donation here. According to the National Kidney Foundation, most donor surgeries are done laparoscopically through a tiny incision. The average hospital stay for a kidney donor is a few days, and recovery can take anywhere from a month to six weeks.