Larry Swilling, 78, marched around his town of Anderson, S.C., for more than a year carrying a sign around his neck with the words: “NEED KIDNEY 4 WIFE.”
Swilling’s dogged appeal eventually found a kidney for his wife, Jimmie Sue. It also attracted enough donors to provide kidneys for 125 other people as well.
The Swillings have been married for 57 years and when Larry found out he was not a match to donate a kidney to his wife, who is 76, he was determined to find one and began his sandwich board plea.
The Medical University of South Carolina confirmed to ABC News a kidney donor has been matched with Mrs. Swilling and she will undergo surgery on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
Sarah Parker, RN Living Donor Coordinator at MUSC, said Larry Swilling’s effort to find a donor created an outpouring of donations.
“Over the course of the year 2,000 phone calls came in for his specific case,” Parker said. Mrs. Swilling and the potential donors went through tests to find a compatible match, and ultimately a match was found.
While many potential donors did not match, some of those initial calls resulted in an estimated 125 successful kidney donations registered at MUSC within the year. Many of those are donors do not know the recipient of their kidney, but chose to donate anyway.
“Becoming a living donor is a great option because it takes away the wait time for those in need, it’s a blessing and gift for the recipient and their families, and helps bring down the national wait list,” Parker told ABC News.
Larry Swilling posted his phone number on the sandwich board sign and his inbox has been inundated with messages over the year. On his voice mail, Swilling gives his callers the phone number to the MUSC donation line at 1-800-277-8687 and thanks his callers for their interest and help.
Swilling, when reached by ABC News, declined to discuss his campaign.