WNY Kidney Connection generates two successful pairs
by Rich Place – Jamestown Post Journal
September 5, 2009
Online matchmaking sites advertise they can find soul mates and can hook users up with the partner of their dreams. A Web site co-created by a Jamestown resident is matching people up as well, but in an entirely different way.
Together with three other women, Jeanette Ostrom created WNYKidneyConnection.org, a place where Western New Yorkers in need to a kidney transplant can go to find local residents willing to donate. Since its creation in 2006, the Web site has successfully paired two kidney donors to two people in need while also raising awareness for living organ donations.
“When we started the Web site, we said if one person receives a kidney, can you imagine one life that will be saved because of it?” Ms. Ostrom said. “Now we’ve had our second successful transplant and more people are testing for others they found on the Web site.”
A proven life saving tool, the Web site is actually quite simple. Someone in need of a kidney can post a profile picture, short biography and hometown on the main page. From there, potential donors can log on and contact those in need. A series of tests conducted by physicians will determine if the two people are compatible.
The first time two complete strangers were successfully matched took place in 2008, when Linda Padilla donated a kidney to Olean resident Julie Wolfe. The women did not know each other beforehand, but they are now friends and celebrated the one year anniversary of the procedure on August 20.
“We’ve stayed close,” Ms. Wolfe said. “We go to breakfast, we go to lunch, we go to movies. She was living in Ellicottville at the time, and my kids were the ones who got the U-Haul and moved her over here to her new house (in Olean).
“It’s incredible, just incredible,” she said about WNY Kidney Connection. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for it.”
Ms. Padilla had nothing but good things to say about the Web site, and has encouraged friends and family to check it out.
“It was probably one of the simplest surgeries I have ever had,” she said. “I tell anybody who wants to hear about it how much I recommend doing it, if you can do this mentally.”
Less than a year after Ms. Wolfe and Ms. Padilla’s successful kidney transplant, the Web site generated another success story, and saved another life in the process.
After reading about the Web site in The OBSERVER, Marlene Williams of Brocton created a profile for her husband, Dudley, who had been on dialysis. Cheektowaga resident Ted Morton found Dudley’s profile and contacted him. Soon, the two went from talking on the phone to meeting face to face at a local restaurant.
“Actually meeting up with the person whose life is going to be extended was quite emotional for us,” Morton said.
Once the two were found to be compatible, a successful kidney transplant took place on June 11. A few years ago, one stranger needed a kidney and another was looking to donate one. Today, the two are both healthy and have become great friends.
“We are going to be friends for life,” said Williams. “He calls every weekend and sees how we are doing.”
These two stories about strangers becoming friends aren’t the only positive results that come from the Web site. In fact, WNYKidneyConnection.org was created not only to connect strangers, but to raise awareness for living organ donations. Ms. Ostrom created the site after her son, Paul Cardinale, was refused a kidney transplant at Buffalo General Hospital because she found the organ donor on a national Web site.
When she expressed her opinion about the issue in The Buffalo News, Ms. Ostrom met three other Western New York women and they formed “Women on a Mission.” They met with BGH to talk about the hospital’s policy, which was eventually changed. Together, the women then created the local Web site for kidney donations.
“We have had more transplants; people from Jamestown have come off dialysis and received a transplant in record numbers,” Ms. Ostrom said. “Relatives are coming forward. Friends are coming forward. Strangers are coming forward. It’s because of the raised awareness.”
To be a part of this revolutionary online experience, visit the Web site online at www.WNYKidneyConnection.org.