Community works to help match retired firefighter with kidney donor

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 6:10 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - After decades of serving others, a retired firefighter is asking for help.

Kurt Kipley continued a family tradition 45 years ago when he signed up to volunteer with his local fire department.

“I’m a fifth generation firefighter,” Kipley said.

Kipley eventually became a career firefighter and paramedic with Roanoke County, doing his best to help those in need.

“I know I went out there and made a difference and I went home every day and those were the things that were important to me,” Kipley said.

Two and a half years ago, Kipley learned his kidneys were failing and needed to start dialysis in order to survive.

“It’s kind of hard to go from going 180 MPH all the time and going to 20,” he said.

Now after 45 years of answering the call for his neighbors, Kipley is asking for his own help.

“I’m sure there are a lot of folks in my circle that never even knew I was sick,” Kipley said.

The Roanoke County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics union, Local 3194 wasted no time, putting out a message on Facebook in search of a kidney donor.

“We always talk about it being family. We do fight, but we always try to help each other as much as possible,” President Greg Sazonov said.

This is not the first time the union has tried to help find the perfect match.

“We actually have another firefighter in kidney failure,” Sazonov said.

Now for the second time, their community has answered the call, finding a potential donor for Kipley and the other firefighter.

“So far we have asked twice for donations, and so far, less than a day later we’ve had somebody lined up to get tested,” Sazonov said.

“Well it’s amazing. It really is. I wouldn’t expect anything other from my brothers and sisters in the union,” Kipley said.

Even though Kipley’s battle is far from over, he is still finding ways to think of others, reminding everyone that there are lots people searching for a living donor with just the right match.

“If they don’t match me they might match somebody else. And you know if you want to donate a kidney there are a lot of us out there,” Kipley said.

Kipley is B+ blood type. If you are interested in helping and seeing if you might be a match for Kipley you can contact him at or the union at

For more information about becoming a living donor you can visit UVA Health.

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