Ohio man searches for donor on Facebook

Ohio man searches for donor on Facebook

The (Toledo) Blade


Randy Wright has talked to almost everyone he meets about the demand for organ donors — and his need for a kidney.

So when a Walmart clerk heard his plight and suggested the 45-year-old Huron County man join Facebook, Wright, with some help, began an awareness campaign on social media.

No one in Wright’s family is a suitable donor, but at least two siblings have agreed to donate to others as part of the paired donation concept created by a doctor at the University of Toledo Medical Center — formerly the Medical College of Ohio — where the man with type O blood is on the waiting list for a kidney.

“Need ‘O’ kidney,” states his Facebook community page, liked by more than 50 people. “Will swap two ‘A’ kidneys for one ‘O.’ Stay tuned in my quest for a kidney, and please Donate Life.”

Besides the community page, which is liked by more than 50 people, Wright has more than 275 friends on his personal Facebook page.

Through Facebook and by doing research online, the father of three has met others waiting for organ transplants, people who have had surgeries and people whose loved ones were donors either while alive or after death. And he and his friend, Elizabeth Wolfe, are spreading the word online about the need for organ donations during his home hemodialysis sessions several times a week where they live, about 70 miles east of Toledo in Huron County’s Townsend Township.

Wright has enlarged kidneys from polycystic kidney disease, which went undetected until the laid-off carpenter fell off a tractor two years ago and had internal bleeding from ruptured cysts.

Nearly 112,000 Americans await organ transplants, including nearly 90,000 who need kidneys, according to Life Connection of Ohio.

The organ shortage is growing so rapidly that another person is added to the list every 11 minutes, and 18 people die every day waiting for a transplant, according to the Maumee organization.

Such startling statistics have led Wright and Wolfe to become advocates of organ donation. They post stories of successful transplant surgeries and other data on Facebook in hopes of encouraging others who also are on transplant lists and of spurring donations.

“It’s hard for us to believe that all these people are waiting,” Wolfe said. “Maybe if somebody would have been more active 10 years ago, we wouldn’t be in the shape we are in now.”

She added: “There’re thousands of Randys out there.”

Dr. Michael Rees, a transplant- surgeon at the medical center, has developed a method to increase the number of kidney transplants that can be done by starting chains of donations with the first beginning in 2007.

He created the Maumee-based Alliance for Paired Donation Inc., which helps people with willing donors who are not matches by lining them up with other recipients and donors.

Initially, Wright was listed at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, but he transferred his wait time to UTMC.

“I’m hoping on Toledo,” said Wright, who is thankful medical expenses are covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Robert Wright of Warrensville Heights and Dennis Wright of Vermilion are willing to donate kidneys in a paired chain to help their ailing older brother.

“I figure, if there’s a chance I can help him and save somebody else in the process, that’s fine,” said Dennis Wright, 28.

Said 40-year-old Robert Wright of others on the transplant list: “They need the opportunity for somebody just to help them out — to exist even.”