BRIGHTON, Colo. — Jeff Blumenfeld never thought he would be a poster child for kidney donation, but there he is on a billboard along Highway 7 in Brighton, asking for help in saving his life.
“First, I didn’t want anybody to know. I’m a private person. It’s a health issue. I didn’t want to be defined by this,” Blumenfeld said.
In 2009, Blumenfeld, who has volunteered his time all over the world, was diagnosed with kidney cancer and one of his kidneys was removed. Now, his other kidney is failing, and he’s being kept alive by a dialysis machine while he waits on a transplant list.
“Now I’m a volunteer who needs a volunteer,” he said.
So Blumenfeld and his family turned their cars into moving billboards, put up free billboards and even reached out to celebrities on social media trying to find help. Lamar Advertising Company donated the billboard space in Brighton as a public service.
It’s an extreme method that is becoming more common for Coloradans. The National Kidney Foundation reports 1,130 Coloradans are on the kidney transplant waitlist, and 36 died while on the waitlist in 2022.
Dr. Alex Wiseman, executive director of kidney transplantation at Porter Adventist Hospital, said competition is high for kidney donations. He said Colorado has more living donors than ever before, but people are still dying while waiting for a transplant.
“People do feel desperate and feel that they need to take measures that they would not normally take in order to gain attention,” Wiseman said.
After a screening, kidney donation is very safe and donors don’t have to be a match, according to Wiseman. Paired exchanges — or kidney swaps — allow people to donate a kidney in exchange for a compatible kidney for the person they choose.
Blumenfeld is on a database of kidney transplant stories so that altruistic donors can pick a kidney mate. His youngest daughter, Jenna, said he just needs one person.
“I’m very concerned about the future,” she said. “I want him to be there for me and my niece and nephew and for my sister, and obviously for everybody in his family and his community.”
Blumenfeld wants to be there for his grandchildren, but also raise awareness to help others on transplant lists.
“I see myself as creating a template and helping others,” he said. “This will become my new mission."
He said if he was to get a kidney, he would be able to get back to traveling and helping others.
“Oh my God,” he said when asked what it would mean to him if someone donated a kidney. “It would allow me to get back out there and help other people.”
See more on Blumenfeld's website here.
Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need we can address or have a story idea for our consumer investigates team to pursue, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or or call (303) 832-7777. Find more Contact Denver7 stories here. You can also use the form below to request help from Jaclyn Allen and the Contact Denver7 Team.