A 911 dispatcher and firefighter in Yancey County said he is giving one of his kidneys to a friend and colleague in need of a transplant.

Zachary St. Germain, a dispatcher at Yancey County E-911 and a member of the Newdale Fire Department, said his friend and co-worker at both agencies, Josh Nelson, learned in 2017 that he had kidney disease and that his were only functioning at 15 percent.

St. Germain said he met Nelson when he joined the fire department after leaving the US Army. He said Nelson helped him shape his career and became his best friend over the years.

“Over time Josh and I have become very good friends, not only because of work/fire department but because we have so much in common,” St. Germain said. “June of last year Josh stood by my side as the best man in my wedding and February of this year our daughters we born only a week apart.”

St. Germain said he began the living donor process in December at Wake Forest Abdominal Organ Transplant Clinic in hopes of donating one of his kidneys to Nelson. He described the extensive, three-phase process:“Phase one consisted of living donor eligibility, physical and mental health assessments, organ donor awareness/readiness, donor to recipient compatibility. Phase one is known to be the most difficult phase to pass, not only did I have to be in good physical and mental shape to donate, but Josh and I had to be a compatible match. Three main blood tests were conducted to determine our match, blood typing, tissue typing and cross-matching.

Phase two consisted of extensive physical testing, x-rays/cat scans and ultrasounds, more blood work and multiple 24-hour urine collections.

Phase three was a sit down meeting with my donor coordinator, surgical team and nephrologist (Kidney Doctor) this was the final approval process before kidney donation. During these meetings we discussed the surgery, which kidney they would be taking, my recovery and what to expect in the future.”After completing all three phases, St. Germain said a surgery date has been set for May 1.

The Newdale Fire Department and the Yancey County community is holding a live auction to help pay for the surgeries. The live auction will be at the fire department on April 21 starting at 6 p.m. All proceeds will go to the Nelson family to be used for medical bills from the surgeries.

St. Germain said Nelson’s insurance will cover the cost of his surgery and treatment as well, so co-pays, deductions, and other fees will fall on Nelson.

Some of the items up for auction include hunting and fishing excursions, zip line tours, various gift cards and gift baskets, concealed weapons permit classes, jewelry, and a Ruger 10/22.

A hotdog and hamburger supper and an auction preview will precede the auction, starting at 5 p.m.

For more information about the auction, call 828-208-1451.

The Newdale Volunteer Fire Department can be reached at 828-284-4360.

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