A mom, desperate for a kidney donor, writes a plea on the back windshield of her car.
Christine Royles was diagnosed with lupus in December 2013, and later started suffering from kidney failure. In July 2014, Royles was put on the transplant list, along with over 100,000 other people in the United States.
Christine, who has to be hooked to a dialysis machine for ten hours each night, was anxiously awaiting a new kidney, but it never came. Finally, Royles decided to take matters into her own hands and wrote a plea for help on her car, hoping that someone would see it and be generous enough to consider giving a kidney to a complete stranger.
“I take 10 to 11 medications, I have doctor’s visits every week, sometimes a few times a week,” said Royles. “My dialysis, I do every day. Every night I hook up to a machine for 10 hours. And when you have kidney problems, you have to be on a really strict diet—that’s the worst part.”
Royles explained that she would change the message every week or so.
“Looking for someone to donate me their kidney! Must have type O blood. You only need 1 kidney,” one of the messages read.
“Everyone thought it was weird; they thought it was creepy. But I had this really weird feeling that it would work,” Royles told Today.
One message, that included information about Royles having a 2-year-old son, caught the eye of Josh Dall-Leighton, a corrections officer, and his wife, Ashley. While visiting a local Applebee’s restaurant, Josh and Ashley saw the message and felt called to help.
“I just looked at my wife and said, ‘I have to try.’ I think it was the fact that I have three kids of my own, and that really resonated with me. If [my wife] needed a kidney and I couldn’t provide for her, I would hope that somebody else would kind of step up and help her out,” Josh told the Huffington Post.
“He doesn’t think any child should be without a mother—that’s the first thing he said when he saw it,” Ashley said of her husband.
The couple immediately contacted Royles. They sent her a text message letting her know that Josh was interested in seeing if he was a match to be her donor. Royles connected Josh with the Maine Medical Center’s Transplant Program, and it was confirmed on February 2015 that he was a match.
“I started crying,” Royles said, “because, oh, my God, I can’t believe he’s gonna do this for me.”
The surgery is tentatively scheduled for May 2015. Josh will have to take up to six weeks of unpaid leave from work to recover from the surgery. His friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help Josh and Ashley with their finances during this time. So far, they have raised over $48,000.
“It’s really amazing because he has three kids, he’s the sole provider,” Ashley said. “He’s got a young family and he’s just going to take time off to do something for a random person — I think it’s pretty crazy.”
Sadly, the transplant is currently on hold because of Christine’s health issues and the legal and ethical standards of the fundraising site. The doctors are concerned that the amount of money Josh and Ashley will receive could be construed as him being paid for his organ.
“There’s a potential ethical issue in that the amount of money that has been generated is outside the norm of our experience for this type of situation,” Dr. John P. Vella, director of the Maine Transplant Program, told WMTW. “It’s very clear that the donor made a decision to offer his kidney altruistically before there was any potential for a large amount of money to come his way.”
Josh is continuing the process of testing and evaluations in hopes that the transplant will take place.
“We hope to find a way to move forward with the living kidney donation, assuming all of the requirements are met,” Vella said.
[Photo via Facebook/Christine Royles]