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Georgians seek strangers for kidney donations

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ATLANTA -

Just over 3,500 Georgians are caught in a medical waiting game. They need a kidney transplant, but they don't have a donor.

The wait for a deceased donor kidney can stretch on for four or five years, so some folks are launching their own searches for a living donor.

Larry Miller and Jennifer Doyal are hoping they can convince others to think about becoming a living kidney donor.

These days, Larry Miller is a man on a mission. At 79, the Marine veteran and retired salesman, is searching for a stranger.

"I am trying to get the word out that I really need a human live person that is moved to donate a kidney to help me," Miller said.

Larry's kidneys were damaged by medication; he's lost about 80 percent of his kidney function.

"I really don't want to go on dialysis, I pray that I don't have to, I pray for a donor to step forward," Miller said.
    
The wait for a cadaver kidney could take four years.

"So we've decided to be proactive and get the word out to people that we need help," Miller said.

So, he and his wife Janice are trying someone to be his living donor.

"I've asked them if they will not, if they're not in a position to offer a kidney, please pray for me.  So one way or another, I feel that I'm going to get a kidney donor," Miller said.

Jennifer Doyal needs a kidney, too. But instead of hitting the road, the 36-year-old mother of three spends much of her time undergoing dialysis at the Davita Clinic in Peachtree City.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for three hours at a time, she's on a machine that filters the toxins from her blood and often wears her out.
   
"Some days, they're OK.  But, especially Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  That's tough," said Doyal.

The odds are also tough for the 96,000 Americans waiting for a kidney donor. In 2012, there were more than 16,000 kidney transplants -- most of them from deceased donors.

Jennifer's kidneys abruptly began to fail in 2010. But as sick as she is, she's facing a five-year wait for a cadaver kidney.

She and her girls are searching online; they've created Facebook page called "Jennifer Needs a Kidney" to get her story out there and move a stranger to be Jennifer's living donor.
 
"I get to talk to other people in the same situation, and it would be nice if I could find a donor that way, I know a lot of people have," Doyal said.

For now, Jennifer Doyal will keep searching and Larry Miller will keep hitting the road, knowing their second chance is out there somewhere.

Last year, just under 6,000 Americans donated a kidney to a family member or friend or coworker, but only 165 of these living donors gave their kidney to a stranger.
 
If you're interested in finding out more about becoming a living donor, Georgia has five transplant centers.

Doyal is a patient at Piedmont Hospital, Larry Miller is at Emory University Hospital.

You can call your local transplant center and ask to speak with a coordinator about how to get tested.

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