Woman seeks kidney donor for husband with billboard campaign

NOW: Woman seeks kidney donor for husband with billboard campaign

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Karen and Tom Buelow of Pewaukee have been married for 33 years. It’s been a good life, but in 2011 Tom was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, drastically changing things.

“In a sense, life has stopped,” said Tom. “I can’t work in the yard. I can’t even cut the grass.”

Tom’s kidney was only functioning at about 15-percent. Last year, his kidney failed completely, forcing him to go on dialysis.

“I’d cramp up like crazy, I couldn’t do it,” he said.

The Buelow’s are hoping to find a living kidney donor, instead.

Karen, Tom’s wife, launched a campaign called Kidney4Tom.com, which includes digital billboards across Milwaukee to help get the word out. It also includes yard signs, and targeting social media.

“We’re hoping that this might be a way to find Tom’s match,” she said.

Tom’s ideal match is a healthy person with blood type O. He’s on the donor wait list, but at 72-year-old, he’ll soon be ineligible for a transplant through that option because he could age out before his name is called. “At 75 they won’t transplant anything into me. That means when my kidneys go, I’ll have to go back to hemodialysis.”

They’re hoping someone will see the billboards and be a match.

“It could potentially give us our life back,” Karen said.

A person doesn’t have to be blood type O to help. Anyone can donate on Tom’s behalf, and through an exchange, he would be granted a new kidney.

For more on Tom's story, visit: https://www.kidney4tom.com/

To learn more about the screening process through UW Health, visit: http://www.uwhealth.org/canibeadonor

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