Calgary man finds kidney donor thanks to billboard campaign
Nine months ago, a Calgary man who needed a new kidney put his plea on roadside billboards. This week, he’s going to receive the gift of life from a stranger.
Ryan McLennan, a high school teacher in his 40s, was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure in 2002. His mother donated one of her kidneys, and he recovered.
But earlier this year, it became clear that he needed a second transplant, and there was no other matching donor in his family.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” McLennan told CTV Calgary. “I just thought, this is going to be my life; I’m going to be on dialysis forever.”
McLennan’s wife Shakina suggested the billboards. At first, he thought the idea was crazy but then he decided to give it a try. The advertisements went up in February.
His campaign eventually resulted in 170 inquiries to The Kidney Foundation. About 50 people applied to donate their organs and 30 underwent testing.
Tony Timmons of Airdrie, Alta., ended up being a match. He will donate his kidney to McLennan on Wednesday.
Timmons says he saw the billboard one day while driving to work and called the same night.
“There’s people waiting for organs that are dying,” Timmons said. “I’ve got two, so why not?”
Timmons added that he hopes a stranger would do the same for him.
McLennan called Timmons an “amazing person.” He said he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family and friends, and less time feeling sick.
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Brenna Rose