Omaha World-Herald | Bob Glissmann
In fact, a living donor is the best option for people like 9-year-old Laila Pettigrew.
Laila, who had a cyst-filled kidney removed when she was a baby, has been on thrice-weekly dialysis at the Nebraska Medical Center for more than a year since her remaining kidney began to fail. She has been on a waiting list for a kidney transplant for about that long.
Her mother and father and eight other relatives have been tested and rejected as potential donors. Part of the problem is that Laila has had two blood transfusions that caused her system to build up antibodies. That makes it more difficult to find a match, tripling the normal wait time of three to five years for a transplanted kidney.
Laila, a third-grader at Omaha's Field Club Elementary, is one of nearly 92,000 Americans that the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network says are awaiting a kidney transplant. Of that number, 250 are Nebraskans.
April has been designated as Donate Life Month, part of a national effort to increase awareness for organ, eye and tissue donations. At the end of 2011, more than 669,000 Nebraskans were on the Nebraska Donor Registry. About half of licensed drivers in Nebraska are designated as organ donors. But those donations can't occur until after the license holder dies.