The Edmond Sun

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March 1, 2014

Fundraiser set for officer after kidney transplant

EDMOND — When he was a child, Matt Sheltman was diagnosed with kidney disease.

At first, Matt’s sister Susan wrote in a letter being used to help publicize the Matt Sheltman Benefit chili dinner and silent auction, the doctors weren’t even sure what to call it, so they named it “Sheltman Syndrome.” After a lot of research, they diagnosed it as “Fanconi’s Syndrome” and “Renal Tubular Dysfunction,” rare diseases that prevent the kidneys from working properly.

Matt’s parents were told at some point he would need a kidney transplant and as time passed he was monitored by doctors.

During the summer of 2009, Edmond Police Officer Branden Baxley met Matt when they were cadets in the Edmond Police Department’s first in-house Police Academy. Branden and Matt would become great friends as they worked together on the third shift for several years.

“I would trust Matt with my life,” Baxley said. “I knew I could count on him no matter what type of call we went on together. I know that all the other officers on the shift feel the same way I do about Matt.”

Baxley said Matt has had the kidney disease his whole life, but he has not used it as an excuse to not do something or let it hold him back. Matt didn’t want a lot of people to know he had the medical issues.  

“I felt honored when Matt confided in me about his kidney disease,” Baxley said.

About a year and a half ago, Matt was told it was time to start thinking about the transplant. At that time, he went through several tests and was placed on the kidney transplant list. Live donors were tested, but none had been found.

On Jan. 11, 2014, Matt received the call — there was a kidney available and he was admitted to the hospital. It was a sudden development and took Matt and his family by surprise; Matt is married and raising two young children.

After being cross-matched, the kidney transplant occurred during the early hours of Jan. 12, a Sunday.

Baxley said Matt loves being an Edmond Police officer and serving the community. He takes pride in the fact that he works in a great city for a great police department and he loves serving members of the community, Baxley said.

“Matt has been there for others in their time of need and I know he would be there for anyone in the future,” he said.

Matt plans on retiring in Edmond, Baxley said.

Police spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said Matt wants to return to full duty as soon as he is physically able. Monroe said he will have to take several medications to prevent rejection and infections, but he will be able to lead a normal, active life.

The fundraiser is being organized to help Matt’s family defray some of the costs that were incurred at the hospital and to help with future medication costs, Monroe said.

The Matt Sheltman Benefit, a chili dinner with silent auction, will be from 5-7 p.m. March 6 at the Masonic Lodge, 1026 N. Boulevard Ave. Cost is $5 per person; children under age 6 eat free. Additional donations will be accepted and appreciated.

Silent auction items include: An OU-Texas football weekend, which includes two tickets to the game, hotel accommodations and a police escorted bus ride to and from the game; one night hotel stay, dinner for two at a Bricktown restaurant and Oklahoma City Thunder first-round playoff tickets; spa packages; photography mini-sessions; home decor; restaurant gift cards; a round of golf and much more.

Monroe said all proceeds will go to the Matt Sheltman Benefit Fund at Citizens Bank of Edmond. Donations may be mailed to: Edmond Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 136, c/o Matt Sheltman, P.O. Box 5441, Edmond, OK, 73083.

For more information or to donate, email Branden Baxley at Branden.Baxley@edmondok.com or Susan Kimery at stangfamily1@yahoo.com.

Currently in Oklahoma about 760 people await organ transplants, according to LifeShare Transplant Services of Oklahoma. About 50 Oklahomans die each year waiting.

LifeShare CEO Jeff Orlowski urged Oklahomans to become an organ donor, which can be done via a driver’s license.

Donors need to talk about their choice with family members, Orlowski said.

In the U.S., about 15 percent of people who receive a kidney get it from a live donor, he said.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121

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