VALDOSTA – When Officer Travis Hodges went to the doctor a year ago, he merely thought he was going to get checked out for a pain in his side.
A pain he thought he’d gotten while on the job.
Thirty minutes after a blood test, the Valdosta police officer learned both of his kidneys were functioning at 5 percent.
Hospitalized for 17 days, Travis Hodges learned that what he thought was a matter of bruised ribs stemming from a “tussle” with someone while working was actually stage four chronic kidney disease.
Today, he is nearing stage five and is in dire need of a transplant.
Travis Hodges, who lost his mother nine years ago to the same kidney disease, was initially apprehensive about the ability to locate a kidney match.
He said his mom was on dialysis for 18 years and never found a match.
“It’s very rare if you can find one,” he said.
He has not been successful in finding a match.
The Valdosta native has turned to social media for assistance with his search.
His wife, Keitha Hodges, posted a Facebook status Aug. 25 stating her husband is seeking a Type A living kidney donor.
The post, which is signed by Travis Hodges, reads: “It is my goal to not let this diagnosis keep me from continuing to do what I love, so I’m reaching out to my community and the communities around me, in hopes that there is someone willing to help me by making an organ donation.”
On Monday, the post reached 1,000 shares on Facebook and the Hodges have received an outpouring of support in hundreds of comments and reactions.
“I’m happy. I was overjoyed,” Keitha Hodges said. “I was really overjoyed just to know that, wow, our community is really backing us up.”
The post inspired six people to fill out donor applications, Travis Hodges said.
“I’m surprised. I do a lot for a lot of people, but my grandma always said that’s what you’re supposed to do,” he said.
“You don’t do stuff to get something in return. You do it because that’s where your heart is. I guess now I’m just kind of reaping all of the seeds that I’ve sown. It’s coming back to me and what better time than now.”
He coaches a little league football team, the TitleTown Titans, and is a school resource officer for Maceo Horne Learning Center.
He has been with the Valdosta Police Department for 12 years spanning his entire career and currently patrols his former stomping grounds.
Travis Hodges was raised in the area that is now Brittany Woods and Park Chase apartments on the south side of Valdosta.
He said he takes pride in being able to form relationships with area residents.
While Travis Hodges has a hard job keeping the city safe, he said enduring kidney disease has been the tougher battle of the two.
If conflict arises while working, he can solve it himself but not so much in the hospital.
“In the hospital, it’s out of my hands. There’s nothing that I can particularly do at that time,” he said. “I can help them (doctors) make the process better but I can’t fix it myself. Out there in the street, I can fix it myself.”
His most significant worry is not being able to provide for his wife and 9-year-old daughter.
“That probably scares me more than anything,” he said.
Having to spend much time in Gainesville, Fla., at University of Florida Health Shands Hospital post-surgery, Travis Hodges will not be able to work.
He will be required to stay at Shands for the entire first month and must make frequent visits monthly.
While people have applied to give, Travis Hodges is still active in his search. The VPD has been supportive and one officer has even offered to donate a kidney if able.
Travis Hodges’ blood type is A-positive. Donors can be Type O-negative.
Along with a kidney donation, he and his family need financial assistance.
While they wait, the Hodges are remaining hopeful.
“We had our time of crying and upset and emotional feeling, but we just prayed about it,” Keitha Hodges said. “That’s just something that we always say in our prayers at night or even during the day.”
Travis Hodges will not allow his kidney disease to get him depressed, he said.
“Even in the worst situation, it’s some light somewhere,” he said. “You might can’t see it, it might be a little dim, but it’s there and that’s how I look at this situation.”
Anyone wanting to help can email firstname.lastname@example.org.