WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Patience and hope. After more than four years of waiting, a former EMS lieutenant will soon receive the ultimate gift, a new lease on life.
“I was shocked,” said Shawn Lamm.
Shawn, 45, spent 22 years giving back to his community, serving as an EMT, paramedic, and EMS lieutenant in south-central Kansas. His career, however, was cut short in 2018 after he learned his kidneys were failing.
Since then, Shawn has been on dialysis. His treatment lasts nearly four hours three times a week.
“It’s pretty hard and scary to watch,” said Shawn’s wife, Sarah Lamm.
Shawn’s name has been on the kidney donor list for years, but he has yet to get the awaited call that doctors have found him a match.
In the fall of 2021, he took matters into his own hands. He posted on social media asking if anyone would be willing to donate a kidney. KSN shared his story in September.
“When we were in that story, that opened all kinds of doors, and everything just blew up at that point. I got, I don’t know how many emails and Facebook messages and stuff like that,” Shawn said. “This went nationally and to different places. It didn’t just stay with the KSN area. It went out of state, and I had one guy contact me from out of country.”
However, a woman living about 80 miles west of Wichita in Pratt saw the KSN story and reached out to Shawn almost immediately.
“She sent me an email first, but I didn’t respond because I had, I don’t know, several emails, and then she sent me a Facebook message. That dinged on my phone, and I seen that, and I responded,” explained Shawn.
A stranger’s big heart
“That story had came on within a couple minutes of turning on the TV to KSN, and after watching it, we just kind of looked at each other and felt like we needed to do something,” said Sarah Navarro. “My grandfather had passed away a year ago from kidney failure, and I kind of feel like he was reaching out to me.”
Sarah Navarro and her husband, Brad Navarro, admitted they rarely watch the news. However, something drew them to turn it on that day.
“We like to help people. I put myself in Shawn’s shoes like if I was in his position and I had five kids, I would want somebody to reach out and do the same thing,” said Brad.
“I always felt like I was destined to something that helps somebody in a dramatic way, not just the common nice things to do for people, and so after watching it, I just felt like that was my calling to help,” Sarah said.
Sarah and Shawn connected within 24 hours of the story airing on KSN. Weeks and numerous tests later, Sarah learned she was a match and would be able to donate her kidney to Shawn.
Preparing for the life-changing procedure
The transplant surgery is scheduled for March 9, about six months after Shawn posted on social media.
He credits the Lord for connecting him to the Navarros.
“They mean the world to me. They will never know exactly how I feel, and there is no way I can repay anything like that. It’s just an unimaginable gift that anybody could give,” Shawn said.
“They are like my heroes. I just love them. They are so great that they are willing to do this for our family. It’s exciting,” Sarah Lamm said.
Post-surgery, Shawn said he is looking forward to returning to work. He said he’d like to go back into a career field where he can help others.
He is also hopeful his energy levels will improve so he can spend more time with his children.
“It will just be amazing. I know some people who have had transplants, and they say instantly that you feel better,” he said.
The Lamms and the Navarros consider each other family. They plan to be a part of each other’s lives long after the transplant.