An Ashland man is mounting his search for a kidney donor with a 20-foot billboard along the side of a busy Wayne County highway.
Jim Williams, 54, was diagnosed with a genetic disorder known as polycystic kidney disease back in 2005.
Despite changing his diet and living a healthy lifestyle, his kidney function has dropped drastically in recent years.
“You exhaust your family and close friends in terms of who could be a donor,” Williams said.
When his kidney function dropped below 20 percent in 2013, doctors told Williams that he would need to go on the transplant list.
“We've slowly seen it go from 70 percent, to 40, to 30, and then it really hit hard at 20,” Jim’s wife Mary Williams said. “We knew we had to get serious about finding a kidney donor.”
His daughter, Theresa Williams, said the family has devoted countless hours to finding creative ways to locate donors.
“He's always been there for me and I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to be there for him as well,” she said.
The family first took to social media to spread awareness to potential donors.
They also printed flyers, created signs and ordered car magnets advertising Williams’ need for a match.
But thanks to donations from two companies and a family supporter, Williams’ picture and plea to “save a life” is now plastered on a massive billboard along the side of U.S. Route 30 in Wooster, Ohio.
The sign has been turning heads since it was installed on June 1.
Six people have already come forward wanting to donate, but so far no one has been a match.
“I’m hoping that the seventh time will be the charm,” Williams said.
He can only receive a transplant from someone with an “O” blood type, but Williams said interested donors with other blood types can also help through a “paired” donation system.
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The transplant center may arrange for a swap to take place with another ill-matched donor and recipient pairing.
Williams is currently on the transplant lists at the Cleveland Clinic, The Ohio State University Medical Center and the University of Toledo Medical Center.
Interested donors can contact Williams at KidneyforJim@gmail.com.
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