Newberg dad uses giant sign to find new kidney

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by Katherine Cook, KGW Staff

KREM.com

Posted on March 18, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 18 at 8:12 PM

NEWBERG, OR -- On Monday afternoon, Kevin Gray stood on the corner of Highway 99W & Brutscher Street, holding a sign. It said, "Living Kidney Donor Needed. Please help."

Gray learned he had stage five kidney failure in May. He got on a donor waiting list but Gray wanted to do more than just wait.

For him, the sign was a step of faith.

"You gotta believe," said Gray, a husband and father of three. "If you don't believe, than you’ve got nothing."

The sign also included a Facebook page address. People can visit the page to see if their kidney could be compatible with someone like Gray.

Gray, who has type "A" blood, can receive a kidney from a person who is type "A" or type "O."

If Gray is lucky, he'll receive a kidney in three years. Until then, it's nine hours of dialysis every night, unless he gets a living kidney donor.

"It just kinda hit me that I needed to step up and get out there and spread the message," said Gray.

While Gray held up his sign, most drivers just passed by. Some honked their horns in support. Gail Franson stopped.

"I'm going to go on [the website] right away and hopefully be his match,” said Franson. “I'm the same blood type as [Gray]."

Gray was taken aback by her support, and everyone else’s.

"It just makes you feel really emotional inside that somebody would actually be willing to stop and say, 'Hey, I'll give you a kidney!'" said Gray.

The 35 year old came close to finding a match in his own home -- his wife. But a few days ago, doctors told Dawn-Marie Gray that she had a "horseshoe kidney," a congenital disorder in which the kidneys are fused together and can't be separated for donation.

That's when Kevin Gray thought of making the sign.

"I support him 100 percent," said Dawn-Marie. "When I found out I wasn't his match ... it broke my heart."

It also drove Dawn-Marie to start the Facebook page and organize fundraisers to help pay for medical expenses. The couple is also working closely with Legacy Health's Living Donor program, www.legacylivingkidneydonor.org.

"Even people who are considering donating a kidney, who aren't a match for Kevin, I can't thank them enough," said Dawn-Marie.

Neither can the nearly 100,000 other Americans waiting for a kidney.

"Even if it's not for me," said Kevin Gray, "They're signing up to be a donor and that's just phenomenal."

Anyone interested in donating money to the family can visit a Chase Bank branch and donate to the 'Are You My Type' account.

To sign up to be a living kidney donor, visit Legacy Living Kidney Donor

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