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Friday, August 12, 2022

Unbreakable bond: Miami-Dade firefighter’s sister comes to his rescue by donating kidney – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

(WSVN) – For nearly three decades, he has been fighting fires and saving lives, but this South Florida first responder recently needed to be saved … and his sister came to the rescue. 7’s Kevin Ozebek puts them in this week’s 7 Spotlight.

Jeff Hackman loves his family, and he loves his job.

Kevin Ozebek: “So that’s your office?”

Jeff Hackman, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue firefighter: “That’s my office.”

When on duty, you’ll find this Miami-Dade firefighter in the driver’s seat.

He fights flames with a specialized truck designed to tackle airplane fires.

Jeff is based at a unique firehouse at Miami Executive Airport.

Kevin Ozebek: “How much do you love the job?”

Jeff Hackman: “Oh, my God. This is my life.”

But a few years ago, this typically very happy guy was dealt a huge blow.

Jeff Hackman: “It was found on a routine physical through my job at the fire department.”

Jeff was diagnosed with kidney disease. The disease progressed, and he could no longer be a frontline firefighter.

Kevin Ozebek: “So, to be told you can’t be on the truck anymore, what was that like?”

Jeff Hackman: “Devastating, devastating.”

Then, a few weeks after being pulled off his truck, there was more bad news. Jeff was told his kidney function was too low.

If he did not get a kidney transplant, there were just two options.

Jeff Hackman: “First dialysis, second death. That simple. When your kidneys aren’t filtering anymore, your body builds up toxicity, so to hear that I needed the help, to hear I was on the other side of that coin, was difficult to swallow.”

Wanting to still be there for his fire station and for his family, Jeff urgently needed to find a donor.

Jeff Hackman: “I’m like, ‘Wow, how do I ask? What do I do? Who do I ask?’ You don’t just walk up to someone, ‘Hey, you want to give me a kidney?’”

Jeff put out a plea for donors on Facebook. The response was overwhelming: about 100 people offered.

But there was only one person whose kidney was a viable match.

Dawn Martin: “He is a pain in my butt. See?”

Jeff Hackman: “So as a little brother should be.”

Doctors determined Jeff’s older sister Dawn would be the perfect donor.

She flew down from Atlanta for the procedure.

Dawn Martin: “If I had the chance to save his life, I am going to do it. It’s just like a firefighter going into a fire, and you don’t think, you go.”

The surgery was a success.

Dawn is now back in Atlanta. She has just one kidney but feels fine.

Dawn Martin: “I am functioning like a normal human with two kidneys.”

And Jeff is back with his truck and crew.

Jeff Hackman: “So I am at a point now where I am better than I was before surgery. I’m back on as a full-duty firefighter. I’m on the truck doing the job I love.”

They were close as kids, but now this brother and sister truly have an unbreakable bond.

Jeff Hackman: “Thank you, and thank you doesn’t cover it. Thank you. I love you.”

Dawn Martin: “This guy has been a firefighter for, what, 20 years, saving so many lives. You know, I can’t even compare to that. I saved one life.”

But a life that means so much to so many.

Kevin Ozebek, 7News.

Jeff also gives a lot of credit to the Miami Transplant Institute. They do the testing to make sure donors are a match.

Miami Transplant Institute
1801 NW 9th Ave.
Miami, FL 33136

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