Southlake Times > News
Community helps firefighter battling disease
Southlake firefighter Randy Potter has spent years rescuing other people.
Now the community is returning the favor.
Potter, who has spent the last five years with the Southlake Fire Department, is battling a rare kidney disease that has put him in the hospital multiple times over the last month.
With medical expenses rising, firefighters and community members are pitching in to help. The Southlake Professional Firefighters Association has made T-shirts showing Potter’s shield. They are selling the shirts for $20, and money raised will go to Potter and his family.
“I was thrilled,” Potter said when he learned of the community effort. “It’s so humbling and amazing that everyone has stepped up the way they have. I appreciate it so much. And there is so much brotherhood from the guys at this station.”
Potter is a firefighter/paramedic, and as a field training officer, he has excelled at training new firefighter/paramedics in the EMS skills necessary to prepare them to help others and save lives, said Fire Chief Mike Starr.
Potter described himself as being in great shape when the disease struck.
“I was a normal, healthy person,” Potter said. “I weighed 215 pounds and had 8 percent body fat.”
But last month, things changed. Potter said in a matter of two days, he became very ill. He spent a week in the hospital and was diagnosed with Crescentic Glomerulonephritis, or RPGN, a rare disease that attacks the kidneys. It’s so rare that doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Potter’s second stop, said they had only seen RPGN once in five years.
Over the last few weeks, Potter has had eight rounds of plasmapheresis, which is removal of plasma in exchange for donated plasma. He has also received IV chemotherapy. Potter said chemotherapy is the only option left.
“He’s a great guy. That’s why we’re doing everything in our limited capacity to help him,” said Ryan Sessums, president of the Southlake Professional Firefighters Association. “Everyone on our shift likes him.”
Sessums said firefighters have covered Potter’s shifts for the next two months.
As far as Potter’s future, he plans to beat the disease and rejoin his fellow firefighters.
The shirts can be purchased at either fire station or by calling Community Initiatives Officer Renni Burt at 817-748-8349 at the West Fire Station or Anita Otterson at 817-748-8106 at the DPS headquarters.