‘It’s been almost overwhelming’: Edison High assistant principal gratified by response to his kidney search
Brandee Craig said she’s known Edison High School Assistant Principal Kevin Fairman since the seventh grade when the two were classmates at Gisler Middle School.
The two went on to graduate from Edison High School together in 1987.
But she didn’t know Fairman was looking for a kidney. She didn’t even know that he was suffering from chronic kidney disease for the last five or six years until just this March when Fairman announced his condition and his search for a living donor.
“It’s been eating at me since,” said Craig. “I was just thinking of what I could possibly do to help. I’ve heard about those drives where they set it up so people can just come and be tested, but with COVID and everything I knew that wasn’t an option. So, I reached out to Kevin and asked him if he would mind if I made a post.”
But, she added, laughing, “It’s totally like Kevin to not tell anyone.”
Craig posted a call-out to her friends and family on Facebook, and the post’s been since shared only about 15 times, but she said that’s all she’s asking people to do: spread the word in hopes that someone out there will be tested, match and donate their kidney to Fairman.
The post, put online on May 28, reads, “Good morning FB family. I hope everyone is well and excited to head into the long weekend. Please read, this is NOT a repost! This is me, asking first hand for your help please!!”
“I have a favor and am in DESPERATE need of your help. A very very dear friend is in need of a kidney. I’ve been friends with Kevin Fairman since the 7th grade. He has NEVER missed a day of school. Even now as the Vice Principal of our Alma mater Edison Charger (EHS) he has yet to miss a day. He did his dialysis at home while he slept so he could take care of business during the day,” wrote Craig.
“He is absolutely one of the most loyal, trustworthy, caring, loving, understanding, nonjudgmental people I know. He doesn’t expect everyone to run to donate a kidney, in fact he hates asking for help so I’m going to,” she added. “Whatever you can do; repost, share, call, donate, call the number below and see if you a match, just please help!!!!”
It’s how Caroline Winnik and her daughter, Alexandra Winnik, who currently attends Edison High School, found out too.
Winnik said her daughter was collaborating with Fairman as a student representative on the development of the ethnic studies curriculum mandated by the state of California and saw him every day, but had no idea of his need for a donated kidney.
“She’s been working almost daily with Kevin on this curriculum and nothing’s ever been mentioned,” said Winnik, who also went to high school with Fairman but graduated the year after, in 1988. “He’s at school all the time. I don’t know if he’s missed any days. He does his dialysis at night ... he’s got a young child and wife.”
“He grew up in our community,” said Winnik, who added that she and her family are doing what they can to help get the word out.
The National Kidney Foundation notes the average wait time for a kidney can be anywhere from three to five years, but can be longer depending on some geographical locations nationally.
The wait can be even longer for some, depending on an individual’s blood type. Those with blood type O can donate universally to those with AB, A or B blood types, but they cannot receive a kidney donation from any blood type other than O.
Whether their blood’s Rh factor, a protein found on the surface of their red blood cells, is positive or negative does not matter for a transplant, according to the organization.
Fairman said his blood type is O-positive.
“He is an absolute gentle giant, a teddy bear and always has been,” Craig said of Fairman in an interview Thursday. “He played football, but he would give you the shirt off his back for anyone at any time and it’s funny — I put it in the post that he has not missed a day of school since I’ve known him and that’s true even now.”
Fairman said he can’t recall the exact date he was diagnosed, but that at the time he was at stage 3, meaning that his kidneys were still functioning at 45 to 59%.
“You can survive for most of your life at 45% [functioning] as long as it doesn’t continue to go down,” said Fairman, adding that he tried several treatments in the last few years. “But over the years, it went down to the 40s, then the 30s and within the last year, it dropped down. The lowest it’s been were 14% or 12% functioning.”
He’s currently at stage 5, with his kidneys functioning less than 15%.
He started dialysis last year and does it six days a week at home and visits specialists anywhere from one to two times a month, but he’s currently looking for a kidney from a living donor for increased survival of the organ.
“The main thing is I have a 6-year-old daughter named Marley,” said Fairman. “I want to live many years to be watching her grow up and get married one day.”
“You can live a long time with kidney disease, but it’s better if you get a transplant,” he said.
Fairman said he is currently on the wait list at Cedars-Sinai but is hoping to get approval in the near future to potentially seek donors outside of California. The response so far from the community, he said, has been touching.
“It’s been almost overwhelming a little bit,” he said, laughing.
“It’s been really cool. Just the fact that people are looking out for me. I’ve been in education now for 22 years. I’ve had 22 years of students and they’ve been contacting me back,” Fairman said. “The Edison community has been contacting me. I’ve had my college community reach out and contact me. I guess all the different places that you’ve touched over your life are coming back.”
“I guess I must have been nice to people because they’re willing to help me,” he said. “It’s been pretty awesome.”
Potential donors with last names that start with letters A through K should call Jessica Iuga at (310) 423-8463 and those with last names that start with letters L through Z should call Miguel Can at (310) 423-4718 for an initial admission packet.
All the latest on Orange County from Orange County.
Get our free TimesOC newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Daily Pilot.