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Grandmother hopes to find kidney donor through magnetic car signs

Posted: 4:50 PM, May 16, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-16 18:46:38-04
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- At this very moment, about 114,000 men, women and children are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in the United States.

For one Port St. Lucie woman, that wait has been going on for six years.

Patricia Moorhead, 63, is in need of a kidney after having both of them removed last year. She suffered from polycystic kidney disease, a condition that caused tumors to grow and form all over her kidneys. When the organs were removed, they weighed 30 pounds.

"I had to because it was smashing all of my organs. It’s an inevitable disease I have, there’s nothing that could’ve prevented it,” she said Thursday. “The cysts on the kidneys continue to grow, even though the kidneys aren’t working."

After spending six years on the transplant list, her health is worsening. Now, her family is getting the word out in a very unique way.

“I was talking to my daughter -- I said, 'Maybe we should get a sign made up?'"

This week, her family made large magnetic signs to stick on the family vehicles. The message reads: "My grandma needs a kidney."

On Moorhead's husband's vehicle, it reads: "My wife needs a kidney" followed by a phone number.

A simple sign, with monumental results.

Moorhead said she and her husband have been inundated with calls.

“My phone has been ringing day and night,” said Thomas Galusha, Moorhead's husband. “We’ve been at a stalemate. We’ve been waiting over six years.”

One of the calls came as far as Arkansas, from a 19-year old man willing to donate a kidney. Two other people have offered to donate, but must go through a process first with Moorhead’s hospital in Miami.

Every 10 minutes across the United States another person is added to the transplant list, according to Donate Life, a national registry for organ transplants .

“The more people that donate, it will be a lot better off for a lot of people,” she said.

The signs on the family vehicles come during a time of desperation to find her a kidney to help prolong her life. Three times week, Moorhead needs her dialysis machine to survive.

“I’ve been on it for 6 years,” she said. “If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be here today.”

With a recent hospital stay and blood transfusion, her chances of being able to sustain a kidney and be healthy enough to stay on the transplant list is diminishing.

“Last year, she was at hospital more than she was at home,” said Galusha. “I’ve known her for 40 years and to see what she’s had to go through.

Her husband, who often works in Palm Beach County, is helping to get as many eyes on the signs as possible. WPTV first learned of the signs after someone posted it on social media.

“I wish I would've done it sooner,” joked Moorhead.

What her makes her situation more complicated, is her O+ blood type, which is one of the most common blood types in humans. The more common, the more demand.

“So many people out there that have it, so it makes it harder to receive a donor,” said Moorhead.

Moorhead needs just one kidney to improve her health. She hopes to find that very soon.

“All it takes is one,” she said. “I just want to live and i want to be around and enjoy my grandchildren."

Even if you don’t have the O+ blood type, the donor registry can still cross match you to see if you can help.

HOW TO HELP

Jackson Health System in Miami is assisting the family on finding a donor. Click here for full details on how to be a living donor .

Click here to download the kidney transplant checklist.

Click here for the organ transplant referral form.

For the Patient Name, write Patricia Moorhead and use date of birth 05-08-1956.

If you have any questions, you can contact Patricia and her family directly at 772-475-4933 or 772-323-6968.

You can also contact the hospital at 305-355-1MTI (1684) or email MTIReferral@jhsmiami.org .