'Donor Champions' find kidneys for family, friends


AURORA, Colo. -- Hundreds of people in Colorado need a life-saving kidney transplant, and their friends and family members aren't just sitting back and waiting.

A growing number of people are using new tactics to find a live donor, and research has shown that it works.

"Paul is on dialysis six days a week, and I am his care provider," said Cindy Ramsey Defeo, while attending a Donor Champion class at the University of Colorado Hospital Wednesday.

She and her husband, Paul, have been married for 28 years, and as his advocate, or his " live donor champion" as they are called, she is fighting for many more.

"Honestly, my hope and prayer is that someone feels that they could donate a kidney and feels they are called to do that," said Ramsey Defeo.

She has hope, even though the national wait list for a kidney is now approximately seven years.

"There are people that die every day waiting for a kidney," said Dr. James Cooper, a nephrologist at the University of Colorado Hospital, who pointed to a 2012 Johns Hopkins University program that showed personal advocates and community networks to find organ donors for loved ones resulted in success for nearly half of the participants in its trial run. "So that showed us, first of all, something like this can work, and when we took it in our own hands and did it ourselves, we've seen the same thing. It's been very encouraging." Continue reading