Brighton & Penfield firefighter in for the fight of his life

February 21, 2018 08:47 PM

PENFIELD, NY (WHEC) - A local firefighter is in the fight of his life.

Steve Preston spent decades as a firefighter in Brighton and Penfield, developing cancer linked to the carcinogens burning in the homes he ran into.

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He has since beaten cancer, twice, but his treatment is causing organ failure.

“We were given a five percent chance of survival of five years,” recalled Steve Preston, explaining the first time he was diagnosed with cancer was nearly 21 years ago.

He beat those odds, but around 12 years later a second diagnosis hit.

As he was recovering, he would get yearly physicals through the fire department in addition to his endless medical appointments.

During those physicals, health care professionals began seeing a decline in his kidney function. The issue stems from PPIs, which are acid-suppressing drugs. For Preston, he has to take the medication due to the elaborate surgery he had while fighting esophageal cancer.

Preston has been put on the organ recipient list for Upstate Medical, which will take three years if no one steps up as a living donor directly.

“I don’t think I’ll be alive in three years,” expressed Preston.

This man who spent his life serving his community, now needs his community’s help in finding him an organ donor.

You can contact the Living Donor Coordinator with Upstate Medical by calling 315-464-5413.

If you’d like to see if you’re a match for Steve Preston, give them his name and birthdate, which is 5/31/1957.

The Chief of Transplant Services with Upstate Medical, Dr. Mark Laftavi, explains most healthy adults can donate a kidney.
He explained you will go through an evaluation, both medically and mentally, to see if you are fit as a match. At no point is there any penalty to you if you change your mind.

“Even if we’re rolling into the operating room, you can raise your hand and change your mind. We just stop there. There is certainly no pressure,” he said.

He also stressed that there is no financial obligation to the donor, everything is paid for by the recipient’s insurance.

He explained the procedure is simple, with a complication risk of less than two percent. Most patients can go home after a day or two.

In addition, a donor will be checked on a yearly basis.

He explained it is a policy that if the donor needs an organ donation at any time in their life, they will always be put at the top of the list.

“They did their gift to society, society recognizes that,” he said.

Even though it is a matter of life or death for Mr. Preston, the trained emergency responder continues to think of the other lives he could save by sharing his story.

And while his chosen career caused his current health predicament, he says he will never regret being a firefighter.


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