Norma Brickey, 82, has been driving the streets of Columbus, Ohio, with a sign in her car window. It reads: “My son needs a kidney, O positive,” followed by her phone number, 614-822-0911.
Brickey knows the difficulties of finding a kidney firsthand: Both she and another of her sons have had kidney transplants. All three suffer from polycystic kidney disease.
Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with Brickey about her mission to save her son’s life.
“I’m just shocked at the people, their kindness, their concern,” Brickey says.
On how her efforts are going so far
“I finally did get organized, and I still have a lot of callbacks to do. I’ve tried to reach them, but I don’t get answers all the time. But I keep trying. But I’ve had a lot of people that called, and I have probably about 20 people that are testing, some of them have called me back, and they haven’t tested that out, and I’m still searching. I’m still on my mission.”
On the kidney disease her son has
“It’s called polycystic kidney disease. Cysts form on your kidneys — you don’t even know you have it. I didn’t know I had it until I was like 65. And you have to have an ultrasound to determine whether you have this or not. But it takes over your kidney function, and then you end up on dialysis, out begging for a kidney like me.”
On how her son is doing
“He goes to dialysis four hours, and then after that he goes to work 12 hours. He’s a nurse. Dialysis is when they clean your blood because your kidneys cease to function. It’s very frightening. The first time I went was so frightening, to see my blood being taken out of my body, run through a machine and put back in. And it’s a really unpleasant experience. And he’s been on dialysis almost two years now.
“He’s been a friend of God’s for many years, and people like to know that. I do get calls from people, they want to know if this is real, because it’s probably shocking for people to see you ask for kidney. But my son probably gets up every day and asks himself, ‘Is this real?’ That this has happened to him. And I told him, this is the year I’m going to find him a kidney.
“My other son said to me, ‘Mom, if this happens, why don’t you help other people?’ And I may do that. My husband passed away 3-4 months ago, and I don’t really have a lot to do anymore. And I know a lot of people that would love to have a kidney.”
On reaction from people who see her sign
“I don’t make extra trips for people to see the sign. I just do my errands, and almost every day I get a call. I get like maybe two calls, three calls a week, or I get a text to people, ‘I can’t help you, but I’ll do anything I can do to help you. I’ll even put a sign on my car, I’ll stand in front of businesses.’ I get all these offers for help. And then they tell me that they’re keeping it going on Facebook. And then they do, and then the calls died down for a while and someone else picks it up.”
Here’s more information on the Living Kidney Donors Network.