Hospital optimistic after car window plea lands kidney donor

AP News
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Posted: Apr 10, 2015 5:25 PM

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Hospital officials said they're optimistic they can overcome the remaining medical and legal hurdles in a kidney transplant case whose donor was found through an ad on a car window.

Joshua Dall-Leighton responded to a plea for a donor painted on the back of Christine Royles' car.

Royles, who's suffering from kidney failure, organized fundraisers to pay bills and reimburse the potential donor's unpaid time away from work. An online fund, set up by someone else, raised about $50,000.

The fundraising, though well intentioned, created a problem because hospitals must avoid any appearance that donors are being financially rewarded.

Still, Maine Medical Center remains hopeful it will "be in a position to perform a successful operation," spokesman Matt Paul said Friday. The hospital must determine how the rules of the National Organ Transplant Act apply to crowd-sourced donations for Dall-Leighton, Paul said. Legal advice is expected next week, he said.

It's not unusual for money to be raised to help defray costs associated with organ donation, such as missed work, baby-sitting or transportation, but those expenses usually are only about $6,000.

The director of the organ transplant program, Dr. John Vella, suggested Thursday the problem of the fundraising in Royles' case can be resolved. He said the money flowed only after Dall-Leighton, of Windham, responded to the plea by Royles, of nearby South Portland, and made an "altruistic" decision to donate a kidney.

The hospital also needs to complete testing and evaluation of Dall-Leighton to confirm he's an eligible kidney donor. Royles has an uncle in Syracuse, New York, who's a potential match, but Dall-Leighton is considered to be a stronger candidate.