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April is National Donate Life, here is the story of one of our own
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By Chief Todd Breeden
April 20, 2023

In support of April, being National Donate Life, McGaheysville Volunteer Fire
Company would like to highlight one of our own, who knows firsthand the
importance of organ donation and how life changing it is.

Wes Shifflett is a 30 year volunteer firefighter with the McGaheysville Volunteer
Fire Company. Wes was born with a hereditary condition called Polycystic Kidney
Disease. This disease attacks your kidneys when cysts develop within them and
affects the filtering of toxins from your body. By August 2017 Wes’ Kidneys
declined to the point that he had to have a fistula placed to begin dialysis
treatments. He started receiving dialysis treatments in center on January 2, 2018
at the DaVita Dialysis Center in Harrisonburg. He was able to transition to
performing Hemo-Dialysis at home with his watchful dialysis care partner and
Wife, Candice. Wes and Candice spent several weeks in daily training learning the
ins and outs of home hemo before this transition.

While on dialysis Wes continued to work full-time as an Assistant Fire Marshal
with Rockingham County Department of Fire and Rescue. He would come home
where Candice would have his machine ready when he arrived. He would get
hooked up and perform his four hour long treatments 5 days per week. At no
point was he able to have two consecutive days off, so planning of time was
paramount for some down time and relaxation.

Thanks to early screening, since his mother was born with the same disease, Wes
was able to be followed by his nephrologist, Dr. Samuel Arthur, and was added to
the inactive kidney transplant list at the University of Virginia Medical Center –
Transplant Center. Wes was on the inactive list for six years and when his kidney
function decreased to a critical stage he was moved to the active transplant list.
Family members were going through the donation medical screening for a live
donor donation, however, there had been no final certifications of their ability to

Nine months after beginning dialysis, on September, 05, 2018, Wes was offered a
kidney for transplant from a deceased donor. Wes states he can remember the
phone call while at work vividly. As the transplant center nurses call on a regular
basis to check in, he thought this was one of those calls, but out of nowhere the
nurse, stated, “Well, we have a kidney for you, it meets the criteria for you, will
you accept the donation?” When the donation was accepted, the nurse stated to
be at UVA by 12 noon.

That night at approximately 9 pm, Wes entered the operating room, for transplant
surgery. After a long night in surgery he was moved to his room on the transplant
floor at about 8:00 the next morning. By 6 pm that evening he was walking the
hallway and giving the nurses a hard time.

Wes resides in Shenandoah with his wife, Candice, who is also a member at
McGaheysville Vol. Fire Company as an EMT. Wes continues to work full-time as a
Firefighter-Paramedic with Rockingham County Fire and Rescue, where he is
assigned to the McGaheysville response area.

Today Wes’ health is doing great. Wes feels that he is very blessed to have his
health back. He is very grateful for the family and loved ones who had to make
the choice to donate their loved ones organs so others may live. He is also
grateful for his nephrologists, Dr. Samuel Arthur and Dr. Alden Doyle and the
nursing staff of the transplant floor at UVA Medical Center, for their guidance and
medical expertise during the entire health crisis.

With April being National Donate life Month, Wes asks everyone to become an
organ donor. The Virginia DMV can place this information on your driver's license,
but please also have this conversation with your family so they know your wishes,
or document your wish within medical legal paperwork.

Donated organs and tissues can change many lives. A single donor can save eight
lives and enhance over 75 more.

What better way for your legacy to be remembered?

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