Phyllis had polycystic kidney disease, which caused cysts to form on her kidneys. No family members were a match for the kidney transplant Phyllis needed. Phyllis joined our 1+1=LIFE Mentorship Program and with her mentor developed a plan for finding a living donor.  After a 9News story in Denver about Phyllis’s plight and her husband Gary’s efforts to find a non-directed donor for her, dozens of potential donors called. A few months later, Phyllis got a phone call from her transplant center and received a new kidney.

 

HOW TO FIND A LIVING DONOR

Finding a potential living donor may seem like a daunting task but there are many methods that can be used to get your story out to the general public.  The first, and often the most important step, is "recruiting" someone to act as your advocate, or champion, who can assist with various tasks involved in getting your story out.  Many people choose a friend or family member to advocate on their behalf- but for those who don't have someone available to take this on, a 1+1=LIFE Mentor may be able to assist.

Below are a few suggestions on how to get started:

  • Become well-informed about transplantation by reading our FAQs and Facts and Myths and information about living donation.
  • Speak to your doctor or transplant center about your options. You can research transplant centers near you by selecting the needed organ and zip code at the top of the page.
  • Educate your friends and family about transplants and living donation. Consider identifying a champion, someone who can advocate on your behalf and help you through the process. You don’t need to ask others to become your living donor, but it is crucial to share your story and let them know you are in need of a living donor.
  • Learn more about crowd-sourcing to find a living donor​. 
  • Identify/create a specific form of contact to provide on all outreach methods.  This may be a specific phone number or an email address.  Many people create an easy to remember email address to use specifically for their living donor search efforts.
  • We can help! Get one-on-one support from a trained mentor who has gone through the process before in our 1+1=LIFE Mentorship Program. Mentors can help you build an individualized strategy for finding a living donor.

Methods to Sharing Your Story

In order to get your story to reach as many people as possible, it is important to think outside of the box.  Not only is it important to reach as many people as possible but also to be able to share your story in such a way that is clear, concise, and is able to illustrate your need in a brief manner.  The most effective way to do this is to create an elevator speech. 

Once you have your elevator speech completed, you will be able to begin sharing your story in a variety of ways.  It is important to include contact information on Below are just a few examples of the many ways you can reach potential living donors:

  • Utilize a variety of social media platforms- for those who do not use social media it will be beneficial to connect with an advocate/champion who can help.
    • Pictures are truly worth a thousand words!  It is key to include pictures of you that will get people emotionally engaged in your story, such as pictures of you with your family or participating in a hobby that you enjoy.  
  • Don't be shy!  With your elevator speech memorized, you should feel more comfortable speaking with others about your situation.  It may be easier to start by having this conversation with friends and family.  Once you feel comfortable you can share your story with acquaintances and even strangers.  Do not underestimate the empathy of the general community.
  • Create a large window decal or sticker for you/loved ones cars.  This will share the your need for a transplant with everyone on the road!
  • Create business cards with a picture, your blood type, and contact information.
  • Write a letter to friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances telling them about your situation.
  • Contact your local television/radio news stations to see if they will highlight your story.
  • Create a search party flier to hand out to the public.
    • Reach out to community centers, schools, and churches to see if they will allow you to post your flier where the public can see it.
  • Create a t-shirt that friends, family, and general supporters can wear in public to draw inquiries about your story
  • Highlight your story on a local billboard and include your blood type and transplant center contact information.
  • Join our 1+1=LIFE Mentorship Program and create a Mentee profile that will be shared on our website.

Success Stories: Hear from our Mentees who Found a Living Donor

  • Kelsey, college student, kidney transplant recipient,  1+1=LIFE Mentee.
  • Andy, school teacher, kidney transplant recipient, 1+1=LIFE Mentee.
  • Michelle, wife, kidney transplant recipient, 1+1=LIFE Mentee.
  • Mason, student, living kidney donor, 1+1=LIFE Mentee.

See examples of Mentee profiles of those in need of a kidney and sign up for the 1+1=LIFE Mentorship Program​. Contact us with questions or concerns at support@americantransplantfoundation.org or call (303) 757-0959.