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Finding a kidney for a local grandpa

A local family is going to great lengths to find a kidney donor. They have spent thousands of dollars to rent billboard space. And they don't have much time left.
 
In the Graf household, the attention is usually centered on 1-year-old Adelynn. In fact, she is so cute, she even has her own billboard. But the message on that billboard, which for the last week stood at the corner of State Road 23 and Ironwood, is for her grandpa: Jerry Graf. Jerry needs a kidney transplant.

Jerry's wife Diane leased the Burkhart billboard and two others in the area. She did it against Jerry's wishes.

"Actually I didn't want her to do it," says Jerry, "When I'm supposed to get one. I'll get one. Of course, she pushed."

And like wives often do, she won. She is now considering purchasing more billboards in the area and in Fort Wayne.

You see, Jerry is in stage 4 kidney failure. He'll have to go on dialysis soon. And his kidneys won't last very long after that. He is on the transplant list now.

"We've already been on it two years, so another few years, his kidneys just aren't going to make it. We are talking they are going to fail before that," says Jerry's wife of 45 years, Diane.

But Diane, the Graf's two children and, of course, Adelynn hope there is enough time to find a kidney.

Diane got the idea while watching the evening news. She saw a story about a 76-year-old Anderson, South Carolina man who was searching for a kidney for his wife by wearing a sandwich board and walking the streets. It is too cold to do that here so Diane came up with the billboard idea.

"I hope we get a bunch of kidneys," says Jerry, "Of course I want one. But, I hope the other 500 that are waiting in the area get a chance at some."

This is not cheap. It has cost the family about $2,000 to lease the 3 electronic billboards for a week. But Diane says the money is well worth it.

"The money isn't that important," says Diane, "We've been together a really long time and it is like I didn't know life before him anymore because it is like it didn't exist because we have been together for so long."

While they wait for the phone call from the hospital, Jerry is trying not to think of the alternative.

"I'm going to miss the kids and my wife, that is what I live for," says Jerry as he starts to tear up, "so I want to stick around."

That is why the Graf family is fighting. And if they have their way, Jerry will be around for a long time.

"I want a kidney for somebody. Hopefully I get one too," says Jerry.

For more information or to see if you are a match call or email the Graf family: 574-333-7071 or kidneyforgrandpa@gmail.com

OR:

Call IU directly: 1-800-382-4602

It is all completely anonymous.

You can also visit the family on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kidney-for-Grandpa/536292969729269

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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