Maine woman who found kidney donor with car ad heads into surgery

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 16, 2015 1:51 PM

By Dave Sherwood

PORTLAND, Maine (Reuters) - A Maine woman who found a kidney donor by advertising on her car's rear windshield, but nearly lost the organ after an effort to raise money for the donor prompted an ethics review, entered into transplant surgery on Tuesday, hospital officials said.

Christine Royles, a 24-year old mother from South Portland, and donor Josh Dall-Leighton, a 30-year old corrections officer from the nearby town of Windham, were admitted Tuesday to Maine Medical Center, in Portland, after months of medical tests and legal delays, said Maine Medical Center spokeswoman, Susan Pierter.

Dall-Leighton first contacted Royles, whom he had never met, in early March after he spotted the plea for a kidney donor on her vehicle at a mall parking lot.

"My two-year-old son needs a healthy mom. I need a kidney transplant. Call or text," Royles had written on the hatchback window of her Kia Soul.

Royles, floored by her potential donor’s generosity, began an online fundraising campaign to cover Dall-Leighton’s expenses while the father of three was out of work.

The effort, which raised nearly $50,000 dollars for Dall-Leighton’s family, was nearly derailed when officials at the Maine Medical Center raised ethical questions.

The National Organ Transplant Act outlaws the sale of human organs in the United States, and federal law prohibits donors from profiting from a transplant.

But legal and ethical questions were resolved last week, said Maine Medical Center spokesman Matt Paul.

"Following an external legal review of this matter, we are now confident that moving ahead with the transplant procedure will comply with federal laws that are designed to regulate organ transplants and protect living donors," said Paul.

Royles, who works as a waitress, has been diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease that caused her kidneys to fail in 2013.

Nearly 120,000 people are waiting for kidneys nationally and 13 die each day waiting for a transplant, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Lambert)