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Emergency: How Firefighter Saved Fellow Firefighter

November 26, 2017

Kevin Theriault has been a firefighter in Willimantic for 22 years. Responding to emergencies is his life’s work.

But nothing prepared him for the emergency he faced on Sept. 10, 2016.

“(The doctors) didn’t know if I was gonna make it,” said the 49-year-old Theriault.

His kidneys were failing. Doctors at Windham Hospital rushed him to surgery, where they inserted a chest catheter for emergent dialysis. The next few days were critical to his survival.

“Am I gonna get through this? And what’s it gonna mean for the rest of my life? I’m a young guy,” he said.

Kevin was diagnosed with Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare and life-threatening disorder that restricts blood flow to the upper respiratory tract, lungs and kidneys. He would need a kidney transplant.

When his fellow firefighters learned of Kevin’s serious medical condition, many stepped forward to be tested to become living kidney donors and save his life. It didn’t take long before a match was found, right within his own firehouse.

Capt. Peter Bruscato has worked alongside Kevin for 18 years. He’s used to saving lives. But saving the life of a fellow brother was all together different.

“I saw that he was getting so sick, and that he wasn’t able to get to do the things that he had been doing,” Bruscato said. “It was really getting tough for a lot of us to see that.”

Since the two captains underwent transplant surgery at Hartford Hospital, the brotherhood between them is even stronger. After all, they are bonded for life.

“How do you thank somebody that basically saved your life and let you go back to living a normal life again?” says Theriault.

For more information, call the Hartford Hospital Transplant Center at 860.972.4219   or visit Hartford Hospital’s Transplant Services/Organ Donations online.