Huffpost Healthy Living

One Kansas Man's Heartbreaking Effort To Find His Wife A Kidney

Posted: Updated:

On a windblown stretch of interstate in central Kansas, four handwritten words make a startling request: "I Need A Kidney."

The statement was painted by James Nelson, 70, on behalf of his 73-year-old wife, Sharon, who has suffered from kidney failure since 2009, reports the Kansas City Star. The couple has been looking for a donor since 2011, says Nelson, but none of the offers -- coming from close friends and family -- had been the right fit.

So they hatched a plan.

“I called a nurse at the Mayo Clinic, where I had been approved for a kidney transplant, and she said a guy in Milwaukee got a kidney by putting up a billboard,” Sharon told the Star. “My husband knew someone who had a family member who had a billboard. Sure enough, one was available.”

Armed with black paint and a roller, James climbed a shaky ladder and scrawled the message out by hand.

“It was a particularly cold morning that day. I grabbed a chair and sat there making sure he wouldn't fall from that ladder,” Sharon recalled to ABC News.

Since they rented the billboard last month, the Nelsons say a number of people have contacted them, but none has worked out. Mismatched blood types and other medical issues have conspired to keep willing donors from being able to give a kidney.

"One of the people, who is a perfect blood match, had had tuberculosis, so they were unable to donate and the other phone calls have been the wrong blood type," Sharon told KAKE. Sharon's blood is type O; a donor would have to be type O as well.

But they haven't given up hope. “We've been overwhelmed by the generosity of people," Sharon said.

For more information on organ donation, and to become a donor yourself, visit As of June 2013, more than 96,000 people in the United States were awaiting a kidney transplant.

This article has been updated to include Sharon's blood type, type O.

Around the Web

Kansas Woman's Kidney Billboard Draws Overwhelming Response ...

Kansas man paints billboard to find wife a kidney donor - KAKE

Woman asks for kidney on billboard | Local News - Home

From Our Partners