Seeking Donor, Man Builds 5-Foot-Tall Kidney Snow Sculpture

Jan 8, 2014 5:58pm

One couple came up with a creative way to attract the eye of potential kidney donors — using Mother Nature.

“She said, ‘I think we should make a big snow kidney,’” Jim Gorbunow, 43, of Cottage Grove, Minn., told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “It was my wife’s idea, and my brother and I made it happen.”

What began with Jennie Gorbunow’s silly plan to build a kidney-shaped snow sculpture in their front yard, much like your average lawn’s snowman, has now grown not only in size thanks to the recent frigid temperatures. It’s also grown so much in popularity, it could ultimately save her husband’s life.

The giant 5-and-a-half-foot-tall snow kidney sits prominently on their home’s corner lot with a sign next to it stating, KIDNEY WANTED, in bold capital letters, with all of Gorbunow’s contact information in case any passerbys are a possible match for the life-saving surgery.

“When we were building it, we got a lot of honks and people rolling down their window saying they loved it,” said Gorbunow. “People were slowing down to see what we were doing. The neighbor across the street asked if we were going to build an igloo, but little did she know.”

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It has now been 11 days since he and his brother erected the sculpture that only took about four hours to complete. But in that short amount of time, they have been flooded with phone calls and emails from people all over the country inquiring about being a possible donor.

“My wife answered 30 emails today about people wanting to donate,” he said. “This morning at 6:45 we got a phone call from Mississippi from a woman who saw my story and a few hours later I got a call from a man in Louisiana.”

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This isn’t Gorbunow’s first experience with the transplant process, however. In 2000, he had a double transplant of his kidney and pancreas due to the effects of juvenile diabetes. Back then, a childhood friend came forward to volunteer to be his kidney donor, saying all along he would do it without question.

But the shelf life for transplanted kidneys is only about 12 to 15 years, Gorbunow explained, “so we could see it coming through the blood work and tests that I would need another soon. But since I don’t need dialysis, I’m far down on the list.”

“The first time around, it caused a lot of panic because I was really, really sick,” he added. “This time around, I know it’s coming so I’m preemptively taking care of it.”

Gorbunow can accept blood types A and O, and it doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative.

To learn more, you can visit Gorbunow’s donation websites here and here.

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