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Beloved WBZ-TV photographer Jared Higginbotham needs kidney transplant

Beloved WBZ photographer in need of kidney transplant
Beloved WBZ photographer in need of kidney transplant 03:20

BOSTON - Those who know and love him here at WBZ describe Jared Higginbotham as a hardworking, driven, go-getter with a great attitude. "I love him," Dan Roche said. "He's like having a brother on the road."

While you, the viewers, might not know Jared, you've seen his work. Every night on WBZ at 8 and 11, he works with reporter Kristina Rex. At every Patriots game, he is behind the camera for Steve Burton or any member of the sports team. Even for away games, Jared is often the man behind the camera, bringing news and sports to life daily.

What many don't know - not even his colleagues - is that Jared fights his own battle daily. He needs a kidney transplant to live.

For more than two years now, Jared goes home after every shift, and plugs into an at-home dialysis machine, hooking up for at least eight hours a night to clean the toxins out of his system. He's 41-years-old and his condition leads to lethargy, pain, and more.

Jared is on the transplant list at Massachusetts General Hospital for a deceased donor's kidney, but doctors say a living donor could not only save his life but extend it much longer than a deceased donor's kidney.

Jared Higginbotham
WBZ-TV photographer Jared Higginbotham  CBS Boston

"There is a mortality risk of being on the transplant list, particularly if you're diabetic even at the age of 41," explained Dr. Jeff Cooper, who runs the transplant team at Boston Medical Center. He is not involved in Jared's care since he works at a different hospital, so WBZ consulted him as an unbiased expert on kidney disease and the transplant process.

"A transplant will double his life," Dr. Cooper explained. "A living donor will last longer than a deceased donor's kidney."

Since healthy people can live with only one kidney, reaching out to loved ones or even using the power of social media to find a healthy living donor has become more common, Cooper says. "It's a wonderful gift," he said. "It's amazing that people do this. They are true heroes."

The application process is, for the most part, non-invasive, and involves a series of applications and medical appointments, all expenses covered by the transplant program. If a match, the actual surgery lasts about four hours. Most people leave the hospital in two to three days, according to Cooper, and have to take about three weeks' off of work to recover.

With a supportive TV family like that of WBZ, and the ability to reach thousands of people in Massachusetts, in the giving holiday spirit, we decided to use our platform to draw attention to the power of kidney donation.

For a direct match, Jared is blood type A.

Even if you don't qualify as a match for Jared, becoming a donor can help someone else. As Jared writes on his website, "Say your blood type is B+. Transplant teams across the US do these crazy things called pair kidney exchanges. These teams will string along a chain of transplants, matching several donors and recipients from all over saving multiple lives with the help of your kidney going to, say, Tucson, and then I end up getting one from say Tampa!"

To help Jared, or to become a kidney donor in general, see the following links:

To Become A Living Donor 

Information About Living Donor Program

Jared's Kidney Website

Jared's passion is working in TV news and sports, and being the best photographer possible. If he gets a new kidney, that can become a reality.

Here's what his coworkers have to say about him:

"You'd never know that he needed a kidney. You'd never know by what he does," Dan Roche said.

Whether it's traveling, or lugging pounds of gear, Jared gets the job done. "He's just a wonderful human being and I hope the best for Jared, and I hope and I pray that everything goes well for him too," Rochie said.

"[He's] one of the best people to work with and we love [him] from the bottom of our hearts," Steve Burton added.  

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