An Ottawa volunteer firefighter who launched a social media campaign in the hopes of finding a new kidney recently learned that a match was closer to home than he thought.

Craig Dunbar’s match: the wife of his former fire chief.

“I found it ironic, that we searched so far and wide and that it turned out to be someone I’ve known for years all along,” Dunbar told CTV News.

Dunbar was first diagnosed with renal failure in 2007, and was recently told that his fistula, the access he used for dialysis treatments, would fail within a year. He launched a social media campaign hoping people would get tested to see if they were a potential match.

Ann Gervais, the wife of Dunbar’s former rural sector fire chief, saw media reports about the campaign.

“When you can put a face to someone who is not going to last a year, that really hit home for me,” she said.

After completing the necessary testing, including bloodwork and an MRI, Gervais found out she was a match.

“If this is something I can do to help someone who has encouraged and inspired and given hope to so many people, that is a really cool thing for me,” she said.

A transplant is now scheduled for Jan. 16.

Dunbar said he is immensely grateful to Gervais.

“You could say ‘thank you’ a million times and it wouldn’t be enough. For me to get this gift and a second shot at life, I can’t even put it into words,” Dunbar said. “My goal all along has been to get back on the fire floor and get riding the trucks again. So to have a member of the family be the one to help me do that, it’s pretty amazing.”

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Katie Griffin