Russ Cupps, an Altruistic Living Donor and member of ATF’s TLC, live on 9NEWS with Executive Director Anastasia Darwish sharing his donation story and promoting living donation!
As an engineer paramedic and member of the West Metro Fire Protection District, saving lives is part of Russ’s job. At the Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival in 2009, Russ ran into a kidney recipient riding with American Transplant Foundation’s cycling team, Team Transplant.
Amazed, Russ could not stop thinking about how that person’s life had been saved in a very different way.
“I have spent many years in the trenches as a Firefighter and Medic. It has been in this arena that I have come face to face with so many people that have been affected by transplant, or the need for transplant,” he said.
Many were skeptical of Russ’s decision to donate to someone he didn’t know, asking questions like, “What if a family member needs your kidney?” or “What if you die because you need a kidney later in life?” Additionally, complications from the surgery could have prevented a return to the fire service. None of that mattered to Russ. What mattered was that his donation could save a life now.
In 2010, Russ completed the tests and was paired with an anonymous recipient. Their transplant was September 28th. Shortly after the surgery, Russ accepted the opportunity to meet his 22-year-old recipient, Justin (pictured above). They forged a bond for life. Russ continues to save lives as both a firefighter and an advocate for organ and tissue donation. Russ currently serves as a Board Member of the American Transplant Foundation.
Russ’s gift not only saved a life, but also saves health care dollars for every taxpayer. Medicare saves about $50,000 every year after a patient has a kidney transplant instead of being on dialysis. Russ’s gift to Justin was also a gift to all of us.