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Ore. man needs kidney, hits street; Bend man responds

By Kim Tobin
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:41:35 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 23 2013 11:54:28 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin spoke with a Bend man who wants to donate his kidney to a man in Beaverton who has been standing on a street corner, holding a sign, and asking for help.

BEND, Ore. -

A Beaverton man in need of a kidney held up a sign on a street corner this week, asking for a donor. It's attracted lots of attention, even from a Bend man who said Thursday he's ready to donate and needs to find out if he's a match.

"If I'm a match, it's all his -- I'd be happy to give it to him," Lenny Leblo said.

When Leblo saw Earl Martinez's story on the news, he said he didn't have to think twice about wanting to help. Two years have gone by since the father of three girls put his name on the wait list, and still no kidney.

"I just knew that I needed to think outside the box," Martinez said. "I had to reach out to as many people as I could."

Even if Leblo is a match for Martinez, his doctor says there's only a 50/50 chance he'll be able to go through the process.

"I've got a rare disease, called Isaac Syndrome," Leblo said. "That's going to be with me for the rest of my life. I take a lot of meds, and I have seizures."

Officials from Pacific Northwest Transplant say while the support for Martinez is great, if every patient stood on a street corner with a sign, the system they built would fall apart.

They don't have enough people handling calls to take the influx of people who contact them following these types of situations.

"Certainly this is a creative, novel idea," director Mike Seely said. "The concern there is that it may not be the best way to go about it."

The average wait for an organ transplant in Oregon is two to three years. That's better than San Francisco, where Seely said people can wait up to eight years for a transplant.

As the list for organ needs keeps growing, health officials say the real story is the need for more living donations.

Leblo said he wants to start with giving away his kidney.

"If the guy could live longer, that would be great," Leblo said. "I'm going to be 48 years old here soon, and I've lived my life."

There are currently 450 people waiting for kidney transplants in Oregon.

Leblo has an appointment with his doctor. He has to go through several tests to find out if he's a match for Martinez.

To learn more about Martinez and his bid for a kidney, visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/EarlNeedsaKidney.

For more about organ transplants, visit Pacific Northwest transplant at http://pntb.org/

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