Patients desperate for organs resort to unusual efforts to find them

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Joe Smydo

Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette Kyree Beachem, 8, plays with her brother Nico, 9, in an outdoor garden at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Kyree wears a mask because of her compromised immune system.

Leslie Hindman motors around the South Hills with a plea on the back of her pickup:

“Daughter needs kidney.”

The truck bears Leanne Ermert’s name and blood type — O — and a phone number for the Philadelphia hospital where she would receive a transplant from a living or deceased donor.

New Jersey resident Brian Vitale took more drastic action in 2013 when he learned that he had six months to live and a two-year wait for a liver on his regional transplant waiting list:

He decamped to Cleveland, where a shorter waiting list enabled him to get a liver within months.

With the demand for organs far exceeding the supply and the transplant system struggling to do something about it, a growing number of patients are taking matters into their own hands, turning to social media, television, radio and billboards, among other means, to call attention to themselves and others on waiting lists. Continue reading