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Yancey County firefighter gives fellow firefighter gift of life

Zachary St. Germain is donating a kidney to friend and fellow firefighter Josh Nelson. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A Yancey County firefighter suffers from a deadly disease.

He was asking God for answers as he became weaker, when his guardian angel — "St. Germain" — walked into his life.

"We'd been friends, I guess, what six months?” Josh Nelson said.

That's six months after Zachary St. Germain started at Newdale Volunteer Fire Department.

"We just became really quick friends, had a lot in common," Nelson said.

Aside from having the same job, the same birth week for their children, even the same shoes, now St. Germain and Nelson are going to have even more in common.

"I got a call from my doctor's office and my kidney function had lowered and he was wanting me to come back down to do some more testing and to talk about possible dialysis or kidney transplant," Nelson said.

Nelson said, most likely, he would be waiting on a donor list for nearly five years, but could only stay on dialysis for roughly the same amount of time.

After only six months of friendship, St. Germain promised Nelson a future.

"He said, 'You know, you need to go to all your appointments, keep everything scheduled, keep doing everything you're doing and when the day comes that you need one, I'll give you my kidney,’” Nelson said.

That day came about a year later.

"I called Zach and I was like, ‘You know the day we talked about a while back? It's here,’" Nelson said.

St. Germain and Nelson put their friendship to the test.

“Blood wise, yeah, I mean, all of our tests were a perfect match. But, the preliminary blood tests and all the graphing and everything is the closet you can have," St. Germain said.

But, these two friends are about to get even closer.

"You can't really describe something like that, that someone would do that for you," Nelson said.

St. Germain and Nelson will go into surgery on May 1.

A benefit auction is being held for Nelson at 6 p.m. April 21 at Newdale Volunteer Fire Department to help pay for medical costs.

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