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Jacksonville native with stage 5 kidney failure needs lift from community

Man who has flown over city for nearly 40 years looking for kidney donor as he hopes to continue to fly high

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville native who has stage 5 kidney failure is asking for the community’s help with donating an organ.

Chuck Vaughn is better known as the balloon man, having flown his hot hair balloon over Jacksonville for nearly 40 years.

Vaughn has dedicated his life to aviation. He is with the Civil Air Patrol, helping teach the next generation.

“I’m a big kid. I play with the airplanes in hot air balloons. I try to take life not too seriously,” Vaughn said.

But having had medical issues since he was 14 years old, he is now dealing with some serious issues.

In 2008, Vaughn got a bad case of food poisoning, landing him in the hospital for 21 days to get his kidneys restarted. But they only restarted partially.

Vaughn started receiving eight bags of an IV solution a month for hydration. Now he’s at 16 bags per week. That’s how dire this situation is.

"My kidneys are progressively getting to the point where they’re not functioning,” he said.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, many people who need an organ transplant can’t get one because of a shortage of donations. Only 17,000 people receive kidney donations each year, although the need is much larger. More than 101,000 Americans are currently in need of a kidney.

With his previous medical issues, dialysis is not an option for Vaughn. Now with stage 5 kidney failure, he’s in need of a lift from the community. Vaughn is looking for a kidney donor with Type O blood who may be willing to help, as he hopes he can continue to fly high with the community’s help.

“You see the earth rolling out underneath you like a carpet. The city is so incredibly beautiful,” he said.

If you or someone you know is a potential match and is willing to donate a kidney to help Vaughn, you can email him directly at cvaces@att.net.

Even if you are not a match, you can still help those in need through the Paired Donor Program.


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