EMS community rallies around medic facing third kidney transplant
He has Alport Syndrome; departments have come together to organize bake sales, a bracelet fundraiser and a gospel singing benefit to help one of their own
By Chelsey Stark
BURLINGTON, N.C. — Kyle Buckner has spent 16 years saving lives of Alamance County citizens as an EMS worker. Now, he’s getting help from the community he’s served.
Kidney problems continue to be a problem for Buckner, who is facing his third kidney transplant in 20 years. He has Alport Syndrome, which is a hereditary disease. It began with his grandfather on his mother’s side, passed on to his mother, and then to him. Men are affected more severely than females and show additional signs of kidney disease by the time they hit their teens.
Buckner had his first kidney transplant in 1994 in high school, donated by his aunt on his mother’s side. After that kidney began failing in 2004, a generous co-worker donated a second organ to his cause. Like clockwork, another 10 years passed and complications brought him back to the hospital in preparation for another transplant.
In November, Bucker contracted pneumonia and was in the hospital for a week. He found himself in the hospital again in February due to other ailments. During his stay, he contracted a staph infection in his left lung and bloodstream and was placed on a ventilator at Duke for six days.
“With all of that going on, it caused my current kidney to go into acute renal failure,” Buckner said. “Now I’m having to look at getting me another kidney.”
Dialysis had saved his current kidney from going into total failure, which was being administered for three days straight in the ICU at Duke. However, it won’t be long until he needs a new organ.
Surgery could take place this year, next year, or if “the numbers” hold up well enough, doctors could hold off the transplant for a little longer, Buckner said.
“This is my third,” he said. “After this one I just have to get back to my normal.”
Bucker is always on the go and constantly working. He has been a paramedic for the county for 16 years, volunteer chief for Alamance County Rescue Unit for 12 years, and runs Buckner’s Lawncare, his own business, since 2005.
“He’s just a great young man and a good friend,” said Steve Lineberry, captain of E.M. Holt Fire Department. “What he is facing would be difficult for anyone.”
Lineberry has gotten to know Buckner through the several emergency calls dispatched to both departments. They have also served on several committees together, one of those for the development of the Fallen Heroes Memorial in Graham.
As an employee for the county, Buckner has health coverage, but out of pocket costs can still reach astronomical levels.
“A lot of departments have gotten involved to help one of their own,” Lineberry said.
A bake sale put on by wives of the Alamance Country Rescue Unit members raised money for Buckner in March, coworkers at the county EMS department started a “Pray for Kyle” bracelet fundraiser, and individuals and fire departments around the county have been sending in donations little by little to help pay for medical bills.
Lineberry has put together a gospel singing benefit for Buckner Saturday. Sisters of Christ, 3 N 1, and Jubilation gospel groups are singing at the West Burlington Church of God from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free but donations for Buckner are welcome.
“He risks his life to save people in our community,” Lineberry said, “So it is just a great thing for us to do for him.”
Lineberry and the Red Knights Motorcycle Club are also holding another benefit for Buckner this June.
“(Steve Lineberry) is a big person,” Buckner said, “when someone like me or someone in the community needs help, he’s there putting together fundraisers.”
All money raised for Bucker through these fundraisers has gone straight into a special account strictly for his medicine and medical bills, he said.
“I’m so used to helping everybody else and now these people want to help me,” he said. “It goes back to what we’ve always been told: If you treat people like you want to be treated it will come back to help you.”
- EMS Heroes