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Poulsbo Fire helps kidney transplant patient to Seattle

POULSBO — The Poulsbo Fire Department helped a resident in a big way this week when she received an unexpected phone call at the beginning of the first big winter storm of 2004.

Poulsbo resident Donna Stevenson, who has been on an organ transplant list for a kidney for four years, received word from the University of Washington Medical Center at 4 a.m. Tuesday that a kidney was waiting for her at the center.

However, she was unable to get to the hospital because of worsening weather conditions.

Stevenson called Poulsbo City Hall and happened to reach City of Poulsbo accounting manager Nanci Lien around lunchtime and asked for assistance.

“That’s the first thing she said, ‘I’m a kidney transplant patient and I’m wondering if you could help me,’” Lien said.

Lien said she panicked at first but Stevenson assured her that she was calm and was OK, but needed a ride.

“Immediately, you’re like ‘oh my gosh,’” Lien said. “I told her that I would try and contact the fire department to see if they could help.”

Lien reached PFD firefighter Jim Gillard and the three of them discussed the situation.

“I wanted to make sure by the time we got off the phone that they were going to help her or I was going to call my husband with the Suburban!” Lien said.

From there, PFD Fire Chief Jim Shields alerted the Seattle Fire Department about the situation. PFD Operations Chief Jeff Cowan was already out in the community and was able to pick her up and take Stevenson to the Bainbridge Ferry terminal. A Seattle fire crew then picked her up and transported her to UW.

Cowan said Stevenson explained her story as he drove her to the ferry — her kidney failure was due to the diagnosis of Lupus, which is in remission. But dialysis is a major part of her life.

“A kidney transplant means a big change in her life — a freedom from dialysis,” Cowan said, noting that impressed with her story and was glad he was able to help.

“As the fire department, we deal with tragedies so often that the opportunity to help someone with a happy event was real motivational for us,” Cowan said.

Stevenson was unable to be reached for comment.

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