West Licking firefighter shows strength of brotherhood through kidney donation

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s no secret that firefighters have a special relationship. They spend every other day together and rely on each other to have their backs. Two firefighters from West Licking Fire Department are proving that bond goes further than just the firehouse. One man needed a kidney, so another firefighter gave him one.

Seth Coakley found out he had a rare kidney disease nearly 13 years ago and he struggled to talk about it. He didn’t want to ask for help so he didn’t. When his health took a turn for the worst he finally told the brothers at the fire house. Their quick response was overwhelming and it ultimately landed him the kidney he needed.

“In our profession you hear about the brotherhood all of the time.” For Dan Alward, that brotherhood goes beyond a fire call.

“Live like family, fight like family and care about each other like family,” for Seth Coakley, that brotherhood saved his life.

At one point last year, Seth Coakley only had 11 percent of his kidney function. “I didn’t want it to be a factor I didn’t want the guys think I was the week link even though I knew I was.” He didn’t ask for help until his health was in a downward spiral. “Basically I just put it out there and I said hey, this is what is going on. Want you guys to know.”

It was no surprise when Dan stepped up to help. “I asked my wife and she was cool with it. She says she knew I was going to be a match.” He wasn’t the only one who was tested, but he was the only one who was a match for Seth. In April he gave Seth the greatest gift anyone can ever give – the gift of life.  “Seth is my partner. I’m the medic. Everyone’s dream is to get a save out of a fire. This is the next best thing.”

The fire service brought the two together. Now it’s Dan’s kindness and kidney that binds them forever. “I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to hopefully get back to where I was prior to getting sick,” said Seth. “I think by giving Seth this kidney it will get him a better retirement down the road. It will let him live and have a better life,” said Dan.

While saving lives is part of Seth and Dan’s job, they say the moral of the story is that anyone can help when it comes to organ donation. “You don’t have to be a firefighter or a police officer to save someone’s life and make a difference.”

Dan is back on light duty at the West Licking Fire Department. Seth is still on the road to recovery and expected to be back on light duty in the summer. Seth plans on putting his (now three) kidneys to good use, by climbing Mt. Rainier in Washington State.

For more information on his journey or how to help, click here.

To learn more about organ donation, click here.

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