74-year-old Wayne Winters and his wife, Deanne, have spent 26 years together but their time has been under threat when Deanne was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure two years ago. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney donor waiting list each month, and 13 people die every day while waiting for theirs. Determined to take matters into his own hands, Wayne picked up a sandwich board and began his most important quest.
“Need Kidney 4 Wife,” the sign read. Winter’s phone number and his wife’s blood type (A-) were also included. Wearing the sign, Wayne walked miles every day near his home in Farr West, Utah. Rush hour was his favorite time. “They can look at my sign, they can’t go home in a hurry,” he said. Phone calls began coming in. 700-800 daily. “I was just so overwhelmed,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think.”
During this crazy time, the one call they had been waiting for came from the hospital after an organ donor had passed away. “If she can have a good five years that would be awesome, we can have our life back.” The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics estimates that even though a transplanted kidney from someone who has died has a shorter lifespan than the one from a living person, on average it still lasts 10-12 years, meaning Wayne and Deanne could get even more time than they are hoping to.
Although Deanne found her kidney, Wayne claimed he won’t give up his walks. He wants to continue them, advocating for all kidney failure patients. “Think about it. We could start a kidney revolution, and that would be so great.”