COLLINS, Ohio -- Randy Wright has talked to almost everyone he meets about the demand for organ donors -- and his need for a kidney.
So when a Walmart clerk heard his plight and suggested the 45-year-old Huron County man join Facebook, Wright, with some help, began an awareness campaign on social media.
No one in Wright's family is a suitable donor, but at least two of his brothers, who have a different blood type than Wright, have agreed to donate to others as part of the paired donation concept. Wright, a father of three who has type O blood, is on the waiting list for a kidney at the University of Toledo Medical Center, which has been a pioneer in "chain donations."
"Need 'O' kidney," states Wright's Facebook community page, which has been "liked" by more than 50 people. "Will swap two 'A' kidneys for one 'O.' Stay tuned in my quest for a kidney, and please Donate Life."
Besides the community page, Wright has more than 275 friends on his personal Facebook page. Through Facebook and by doing research online, he has met others waiting for organ transplants, people who have had surgeries, and people whose loved ones were donors either while alive or after death.
Wright, a laid-off carpenter, undergoes home hemodialysis sessions several times a week. He has enlarged kidneys from polycystic kidney disease, which went undetected until he fell off a tractor two years ago and had internal bleeding from ruptured cysts.
Nearly 112,000 Americans await organ transplants, including nearly 90,000 who need kidneys, according to Life Connection of Ohio.
The organ shortage is growing so rapidly that another person is added to the kidney list every 11 minutes, and 18 people die every day waiting for a transplant, according to the organization.
Such startling statistics have led Wright and his friend Elizabeth Wolfe to become advocates of organ donation. They post stories of successful transplant surgeries and other data on Facebook in hopes of encouraging others who also are on transplant lists and of spurring donations.
"It's hard for us to believe that all these people are waiting," Wolfe said. "Maybe if somebody would have been more active 10 years ago, we wouldn't be in the shape we are in now."
She added: "There're thousands of Randys out there."
Dr. Michael Rees, a transplant surgeon at the medical center, has developed a method to increase the number of kidney transplants that can be done by starting chains of donations, with the first beginning in 2007.
He created the Maumee, Ohio-based Alliance for Paired Donation Inc., which helps people with willing donors who are not matches by lining them up with other recipients and donors.
"I'm hoping on Toledo," said Wright, who is thankful medical expenses are covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
Brothers Robert Wright of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, and Dennis Wright of Vermilion, Ohio, are willing to donate kidneys in a paired chain to help their ailing older sibling.
"I figure if there's a chance I can help him and save somebody else in the process, that's fine," said Dennis Wright, 28.
Said 40-year-old Robert Wright of others on the transplant list: "They need the opportunity for somebody just to help them out -- to exist even."
(Email Julie M. McKinnon at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)