SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – It’s been a long journey for 45-year-old former firefighter Scott Schneider. At age three he knew he wanted to be a firefighter, but he was diagnosed with kidney disease as a child.
“So I had a number of firefighters tell me I was never going to be a firefighter,” Schneider said. “My parents told me I was never going to be a firefighter so I just wanted it more. So right after my transplant the first thing I did was get in shape and get ready for the fire academy.”
Against all odds, he became a Sacramento firefighter, but after 18 years he had to give up his dream job suddenly as he was hit with several health problems at once, including mouth cancer, nine months of paralysis from Guillain-Barre syndrome and kidney failure.
He was told he had a 1 in 30,000 chance he’d find a kidney donor until his own family members stepped up to help. His dad donated a kidney for his first transplant and just this past February, his aunt donated for his second transplant.
CBS13 surprised Scott with a familiar face.
Dr. Peter Stock, of UC San Francisco, performed Scott’s first kidney transplant, and 20 years later, he performed the second. We reconnected the two on Zoom.
Dr. Stock knows Scott’s story is unique. Two live donors stepping up to the plate doesn’t always happen.
“Essentially, at UCSF we’re doing a kidney transplant every day,” Stock said. “And every person has a story just like Scott’s and sadly not everybody makes it to transplant.”
“I think there’s no better link to really saving somebody’s life than donating an organ,” Scott said. “I was miserable on dialysis. Dialysis is no fun. It keeps you alive but it takes a toll on you. It limits your ability to do a lot of things.”
Scott was lucky, but even if you’re not a match for a loved one, there’s the paired exchange program, where each donor gives a kidney to the other person’s loved one.
As for Scott, he’s still living out his firefighting dreams, now teaching aspiring young firefighters at a local high school.