Alberta man who purchased billboards in search of a kidney not giving up hope
An Alberta man who purchased billboards across the province in search of a kidney donor said he’s not giving up hope, despite having no luck yet finding a match.
Ryan McLennan was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2003. He was in and out of hospital and with no luck finding a willing living donor, he and his wife took an innovative approach.
In February, the Calgary shop teacher and his wife Shakina purchased 27 billboards in Calgary and Edmonton. The message read “Ryan McLennan needs a living kidney donor.”
They had also asked friends and family to put that same message on a vehicle.
Fast forward four months later, there has been interest but no match. McLennan’s kidneys are at about six per cent function, which means he is in dire need of a transplant.
“We’ve had 168 phone calls but we just haven’t had that many people follow through,” he said.
According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada Alberta Chapter, in 2016, 45 Albertans died waiting for a kidney.
So far to date this year, there have been 15 living kidney donations and there are still 310 patients on the wait list, according to Alberta Health Services.
The process can be a grueling and long one, according to the foundation.
“The challenge is there are many more people that need transplants than there are organs available,” Joyce Van Deurzen, Kidney Foundation of Canada Alberta executive director said.
Van Deurzen is urging people to register. She said the more living donors register, the more patients will find a match sooner.
“We need as many people coming forward and being persistent,” she said.
The foundation also offers a program where donors’ out-of-pocket expenses are reimbursed, which can include travel, accommodations.
“We need people to step forward and help people out … a lot of people aren’t aware. You can help a person out right now,” McLennan said.
In addition to the billboards and car decals, the McLennans have also purchased ads on Facebook asking strangers for a life-saving gift.