Midlands firefighter back on the job after a big sacrifice

Updated: Apr. 30, 2020 at 8:03 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Thursday was a big day for one Richland County fireman.

He's fought fires, rescued stranded motorists, and probably even pulled a cat from a tree. But it was what he chose to do six months ago for a friend that made going back to work on Thursday such a big deal.

Fire Station 20 in Ballentine, like any fire station, is full of first responders considered heroes. Chastain Cannon is one of them.

Thursday was his first day back on the job after being out six months to recover from donating the majority of his liver. Chastain felt led to be the donor for the sister of two fellow firemen. For more than six years, Scarlet Kasperbauer has fought an invasive cancer. Receiving a new liver became her last chance to live.

"If there's somebody you can help, I feel you should help them,” said Chastain. “If we had more people in the world who would help people out, I think it'd be a better place.”

The very delicate and critical surgery was done in New York. Doctors removed 70% of Chastain’s liver and put it in Scarlet. It was successful.

Now, months later, being able to return to his work routine brought on a slew of nerves for Chastain.

“I don't think I slept too good last night because I was scared to oversleep,” Chastain said. “I had four alarms set."

The entire Columbia-Richland County Fire Department has been supporting Chastain through this, even working his shifts but allowing him to receive the pay. On Thursday, the head of the department, Chief Aubrey Jenkins, and Operations Chief Christopher Kip presented Chastain with a monster supply of Monster Energy drinks, which are his favorite.

"To have the support financially and then have the support from the guys to work so I could be out, it’s just a blessing,” Chastain humbly said.

Scarlett goes to Lexington Medical Center every week for tests. So far, her body continues to accept Chastain’s liver quite well.

In speaking with her Thursday for an update, she poignantly pointed out that Chastain put his life on the line for her six months ago and now he’s back on the job putting his life on the line for the rest of us.

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