We are told that people come in and out of our lives for a reason, and for 44-year-old Charlie Foote, Shad McNair stepped in as a saving grace. In 2001 the former firefighter was diagnosed with IGA neuropathy and wasted no time opting for a kidney transplant in 2002 before the autoimmune disease had the opportunity to develop further. The healthy kidney served him well, until the neuropathy returned in November of 2014.
The two met 13 years prior as McNair’s wife, Amy, grew up with Charlie Foote in Belmont, Massachusetts. Naturally Amy and Foote went their separate ways as childhood friends often do, but during the time of Foote’s first transplant procedure, the two crossed paths again in a doctor’s office in Derry.
Though Foote admits he had been closer to Amy, having witnessed his neighbor struggle through the relapse, Shad took Foote’s life in his own hands.
Knowing he was one of five potential donors, Shad kept his compatibility under wraps. “I was going through a lot when I first found out that I was selected,” Shad tells The Salem News, “and I didn’t even tell Charlie right away. My wife was the only one who knew.”
Well aware of the risk he was taking, Shad was confident in his decision to donate. “It was absolutely worthwhile and I have zero doubts that I’d do it again,” he says. “When I really feel rewarded is when I talk to Charlie… and I see how well he’s doing. That’s when I’m reassured that I did the right thing.”
According to Amy, not only did she get her husband back, but the couple’s five children also got their up-and-going father back. Charlie Foote coached his kids’ sports teams and was actively involved in their school’s parent-teacher organization, but once the neuropathy took over, he found himself too tired to do much of anything.
Once he was informed that his kidney was the perfect match for Foote, Shad started a blog to document his experience as a live donor. The two men have been working together to spread awareness about live kidney donations. They hope that Charlie’s happy ending will inspire others to donate and save a life as well.
“The transplant obviously got us a lot closer, as you can imagine,” Shad tells The Salem News. “We’ll always have that bond. I’m a part of him and I guess he’s supposed to be a part of me.”