By Duica Karljikovic
UKRO, a Los Angeles–based nonprofit charity supporting kidney disease research has announced that two-time kidney transplant recipient Mary H. Wu will represent UKRO as a rider on the Donate Life float in the 2012 Rose Parade.
“This is the first time UKRO has sponsored a float rider in the parade, and we couldn’t be happier about bringing Mary Wu out from New York to represent us,” said Ken Kleinberg, President of UKRO.
“We support organ donation wholeheartedly, but as Mary herself well knows, there will never be enough donors. For kidney disease, intensive research is the only way to ultimately make the need for transplants obsolete, and raising funds for that research is UKRO’s sole mission.”
Ms. Wu was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure at age three, and underwent more than a year of dialysis before receiving her first transplant at age four and a half. The immunosuppressant medications necessary to avoid rejection caused her many health problems, and when Ms. Wu was almost twelve, she and her family were told that her first transplanted kidney was failing.
She was preparing to undergo dialysis again when the grieving parents of a four-year-old chose to donate their deceased daughter’s organs. Ms. Wu received that second transplant—an unusual double-kidney procedure—in 1995. She has since become an advocate for organ donation and kidney disease research, and an active adult member of the donation and transplant community.
“I am very excited about representing UKRO at the Rose Parade, and I’m proud to have been chosen by such a respected organization,” Ms. Wu said. “Kidney research is hugely important. I owe so much to my organ donors and their families—in every article I write, every registry drive I advocate for, and every event where I speak publicly about my life story, they’re there with me. But I also look forward to the day when advances in research can make organ donation a thing of the past.”
Nearly 30 million people in the United States alone are believed to suffer from some type of kidney disease, and millions of others are at increased risk.
UKRO (University Kidney Research Organization) was founded by entertainment lawyer Kenneth Kleinberg, who in 1999 was diagnosed with a kidney ailment that to this day still has no known cause.