Man takes to streets in hope of finding a kidney for his wife
POSTED: Saturday, September 8, 2012 - 9:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, September 8, 2012 - 9:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — What began with William Larry Swilling's seven-mile walk to save his wife's life has led to numerous calls of concern and offers of help from strangers.
Swilling, 77, spent Friday wearing a sign that read "Need Kidney 4 Wife," followed by his phone number as he walked through his hometown of Starr, South Carolina.
Since then, his phone has been ringing non-stop from people inquiring about helping.
"I'm doing whatever it takes to get her a kidney," Swilling says. "I'm not going to give up."
Jimmie Sue Swilling was born with one kidney.
Over the past year it has started to deteriorate quickly.
"We will survive. We always have and we will now," Jimmie Sue says. "I know Larry will do everything possible for me."
Some of the callers said they were moved by Swilling's efforts to help his wife and wanted to know more about the process of donating an organ.
"The main thing is that they need to fully understand it is truly an operation. With any operation, there are risks," says Mark Johnson of Donate Life. "Just because you're wanting to be a donor it does not necessarily mean that you can be a donor. There are a lot of medical considerations to take in place."
The cost of the surgery is typically covered by the transplant recipient's insurance or Medicare, Johnson says.
"However, there are other costs that are not -- such as travel, lodging, day care for children, work expenses," he explains.
Johnson says a donor is usually in the hospital two to three days after the surgery, but it could take four to six weeks to recover.
Swilling is working to get paperwork in order for potential donors to be tested for compatibility.
The cost of the test is covered by the transplant recipient's insurance or Medicare.
He continues to turn down offers of money.
"I want my kidney," Swilling says. "That is going to save my wife and that's what I want."
The Swillings will celebrate 56 years of marriage in December.
"I love her more now than when I married her," Swilling says. "We're not two. We're one."