Posted 6:49 PM 3/7/2013 : Canon City woman uses billboard to find kidney
A woman fighting a life-threatening kidney disease is taking a proactive approach to finding a donor.
Becky Kelly, 59, has hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a rare genetic disease, and drives to Pueblo to get dialysis three times each week.
After starting a Facebook page and posting YouTube videos asking for help finding a donor, Kelly and her longtime friend Linda Carlson thought of a creative way to find a match: a billboard.
"You just have to go out on limb and say, 'We're going to do this,'" Kelly said. "I'm pretty proactive because I have a lot to live for."
The billboard is located off Highway 50 in Canon City. Since it went up in February, Kelly has received calls from four people interested in getting tested to see if they're a match.
"We thought a billboard would be great because it's got such huge exposure especially as we're a tourist town so people are coming through all the time," said Carlson.
While the cost would usually be expensive, Carlson reached out to fellow Rotary Club member Dennis Wied who owns Raft Masters. Wied volunteered his sign, which measures 25 feet off the ground, and even installed the printed piece of vinyl.
"I've heard Becky's story and it's not she's just looking for a kidney," Wied said. "It's the fact she's already gone through this once."
Kelly's first transplant was unsuccessful, but doctors are confident the drugs she's now taking will help her body adjust to the donated organ.
While her passion for travel has taken a backseat, Kelly is now trying to build awareness about kidney disease. As former teacher, she will return to classroom to instruct a class at Pueblo Community College in Fremont County. The last week of March she will teach "Are You At Risk For Kidney Disease?" in hopes of spreading information.
"I think people just don't understand kidney disease. I never did," Kelly said. "I never even thought about it until I got sick, but I think about it a lot now."
Becky Kelly's Facebook Page:
Potential donors can get more information by calling 888-872-8891 or 713-441-8900. All donor expenses will be covered. She is looking for a donor with Type O blood.