Elkhart dispatcher in search for kidney transplant asking for community support

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 4:31 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 at 5:30 PM EST
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - An Elkhart man is reaching out for community support in search of a kidney transplant.

He’s no stranger to helping others, previously working as a firefighter, EMT, police officer, and currently a dispatcher.

However, asking for help isn’t something that comes naturally to him.

16 News Now tells us how his life will change if he can find a donor.

Dan Schaefer says he spends roughly twelve hours per week in dialysis treatments while waiting for a new kidney. He says if he’s able to find a matching donor to give him those hours back, they’ll be put to good use.

“I’m usually on the other side of this trying to find a way to help somebody, not asking for the help,” Schaefer said.

With a passion for serving, Schaefer worked in various public safety roles across Michiana for the past two and a half decades.

Even after being diagnosed with type-two diabetes in his mid-twenties, Schaefer never stopped helping people, currently working as a dispatcher in Elkhart.

“I finally figured out it was what I was meant to do and it’s been a very rewarding job. I always say, and I’ve said it before, we’re the first first-responders,” he said.

In just the past three to four years, complications from Schaefer’s diabetes led to end-stage kidney disease.

He continues to work while getting dialysis treatments three times a week for four hours each time.

“The first year was tough, but now it’s just become part of my daily routine. I just know on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I have to get off work, and then I have to go to dialysis,” Schaefer said.

Even though Schaefer is on the transplant list, it could take three to five years to find someone with an O-positive blood type like his.

He’s taking matters into his own hands by starting a page on Facebook to find the perfect match.

“A lot of people don’t even know I’m dealing with this except my coworkers and family,” he said.

Schaefer says he spends a lot of time in dialysis thinking about how he can help people others in search of a kidney transplant, whether or not he receives one.

“If I can’t get a kidney, I’m urging my supporters, friends, and even family members to get tested to see if they’re a match for somebody else. I hope to get a kidney myself, but maybe I can help someone else get one as well,” Schaefer said.

To learn more about how you can help, head over to Schaefer’s new Facebook page Dispatcher Dan’s Kidney Watch.

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