If you were in Farr West, Utah, you might have spotted an interesting man on the side of the road. He had been seen walking around town for several miles per day, holding a sign that said “Need Kidney 4 Wife” with his phone number and her blood type featured on the sign. That man would be Wayne Winters, a 74-year-old that had been looking for a kidney donor for his wife for years without success.
“My wife has stage five kidney failure,” Winters said. “She’s on dialysis and she doesn’t like it, it’s horrible.” Winters had been spending years hoping a donor would come through, but didn’t know where to look. He got the idea of holding a sign when he saw others doing similar tasks in hopes of receiving a job or medical help. “I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I felt like I needed to do something.”
Winters would walk to the busiest parts of town, hoping to get the most exposure possible. It was during rush hour traffic that he drew the most attention, saying that the driers were “slowed down, they can look at my sign. They can’t go home in a hurry.” He pointed to the busy traffic and told reporters “Look at this road, how busy it is from 3 to 6 o’clock; it’s just like this. I don’t know which way to face so I just walk up and down,” he said.
Winters started to raise awareness and was even getting phone calls on the first day, saying that he told his wife “I think we have a good chance of getting you a kidney.” He then said “After I get a kidney I will have my wife back the way she was, normal, helping people, loving people,” he said. “She likes to serve other people.”
Thankfully, Winters’s plan would end up working, as he didn’t have to canvass the area for very long before receiving some good news. Winters received a phone call from a local hospital, telling him that a kidney was available. “I was just so overwhelmed,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think.” While Winters received around 800 total calls, it was the one that he was really hoping to receive.
Winters said that his wife’s surgery is massively important to him. “If she can give a good five years that would be awesome. We can have our life back.” Instead of packing up and heading home after getting the good news, Winters actually plans to continue walking with his sign. “I will spend more of my days walking with my sign to see how many (calls) I can get,” he said. “Think about it, we could start a kidney revolution and that would be so great.”
Winters is hoping to decrease the average time it takes to receive a kidney donation in the United States. On average, people will wait three to five years depending on their blood type. It’s estimated that there are more than 80,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant, with 3,000 more people being added to the list each month. If Winters has his way, those numbers will drop in the coming years.