Rising need for kidney donors prompts unconventional approaches

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 10:30 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama, along with the rest of the United States, is grappling with an escalating concern: the prevalence of kidney disease. Public pleas for organ donors have become increasingly common on social media, billboards, and car advertisements.

A recent social media post caught our attention, where a woman fervently appealed to the community for a kidney. This emerging trend of unconventional methods to secure organ donations prompted us to speak with one woman who was moved to take action.

Chronic kidney disease has been deemed a silent epidemic in Alabama, intensifying the demand for organ donors. The woman’s social media post revealed her name, birth date, and the distressing fact that her kidneys were functioning at a mere 11%. She implored anyone willing to help to step forward.

Kelly Holloway, upon seeing the plea, was deeply affected. “I got teary-eyed when I first saw it because I felt bad for her,” she shared. Following the instructions in the Facebook post, Holloway promptly contacted the American Kidney Fund (AKF) at 1-800-638-8299, providing them with all her necessary information.

The American Kidney Fund is a kidney nonprofit that works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease— from prevention through transplant, according to a representative. AKF has numerous programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation, and advocacy.

She awaits their response to find out how to begin the screening process, hoping to be a suitable match.

Understanding the significance of organ donation, Holloway stated, “Because you’re giving life to somebody. I don’t want to see anyone living like that. If I could help in some way, I would love to help.”

According to Ann Rayburn from Legacy of Hope, Alabama’s Organ and Tissue Donation Alliance, nearly 1,100 people are currently awaiting kidney transplants in the state. The waiting period can extend for several years. Rayburn revealed, “We have about 1,285 people waiting for organs, and the majority of those are waiting for a kidney.” Various factors contribute to this chronic condition, including dietary habits, diabetes, hypertension, and genetic predisposition.

Rayburn became a living donor in 2016 when she selflessly donated her kidney to a friend. Reflecting on the experience, she expressed hope for the woman seeking a transplant, stating, “She’s doing well. I’m doing well. I hope the woman you saw gets her transplant.”

Efforts to reach the woman who made the Facebook post were unsuccessful at the time of reporting. We will provide updates on Holloway’s compatibility as they become available.

Those interested in becoming organ donors can register online or through the DMV. Additionally, UAB Medicine’s Living Donor Program and Legacy of Hope offer avenues for individuals to learn more and register as donors.

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