A rare disease that can be challenging and even debilitating is threatening a San Antonio firefighter’s very way of life. The diagnosis has impacted both his family at home and at the firehouse.
One of the mottos of the San Antonio fire department is “our family protecting your family.” For more than 12 years, Brad Hauer has been protecting thousands of families across San Antonio. The community is now rallying around him and his family in a time of need.
There is a hole in Station 42. The damage is not to the building but to the team. Hauer’s bunker coat hangs in the bay locker but Brad is not walking the halls, cracking his usual jokes. The San Antonio firefighter is in the hospital facing a different kind of fight.
“We’ve hit a really hard spot but we’re trying to stay as positive as we can and work through it,” said Margo Hauer, Brad’s wife.
In December, Brad found out he has stiff person syndrome, or SPS. It’s an autoimmune disorder that triggers debilitating muscle spasms. There is no cure, only treatments.
“The week of Thanksgiving the spasm started happening, total body spasms,” said Margo. “It literally knocked him to the ground.”
Margo married Brad less than a year ago. She had three children; so did he. They blended into one big “Brady Bunch” family. Then came another big transition for the Hauer family.
“There’s a lot of frustration there when literally one day you’re fine and then your life is ripped away from you,” said Margo. “You have to take a new route, learn a new normal in life. I’ve taken on a completely different role in my life but I wouldn’t change a thing. I would do this one hundred times over for that man.”
Brad is in the hospital for the third time since December. Doctors are using a technique that involves plasma transfusions. Once Brad is discharged, protecting his immune system is a top priority. His family will sanitize their hands when entering and leaving the home.
Brad will also undergo home transfusions of immunoglobulin. The substance is made up of thousands of plasma donations which offer temporary protection to his weakened immune system.
Margo is staying home full-time to care for Brad and their six kids. They are not the only family stepping up while Brad focuses on his health. His fellow firefighters are leaning in as well.
“It’s a big blow, it’s very painful and difficult to watch someone you love and care about suffer that way,” said Battalion Chief Thomas McNulty. “Everyone has their own special gifts and their own special ways that they can contribute and if everyone does a little bit we can get a lot done.”
Battalion Chief McNulty hopes Hauer can one day return to station 42 in a new role.
A blood drive in Brad’s honor is also taking place February 24th.