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Billboards helping Gwinnett woman find kidney donor

This image is can be seen on billboards across the metro Atlanta area.

This image is can be seen on billboards across the metro Atlanta area.

SNELLVILLE -- Chances are, you've seen them by now.

Multiple shades of bright pink, the advertisements shine in the rotations of electronic billboards along Peachtree Industrial Blvd. and Cobb Parkway, and along interstates 85, 285, 75, 985 and 20. They're in Cumming and Norcross and Acworth and everywhere in between.

"Find a kidney match for Mandie," they've screamed for about a month. "Save her life!"

Mandie is Mandie Hale. She lives in Snellville, and she'll be 23 years old in April. She's been sick practically all her life after contracting E. coli at the age of 2, but is in very dire straits now.

Just this week, her graft, which helps keep her alive, stopped working. She now has a catheter in her groin for dialysis, and it's pretty much all she's got. Things are not good. She needs a kidney.

Soon.

"We're by no means giving up on her," Mandie's mom, Joanne Coats, said. "We had to do something. I told (doctors) that we weren't going to go down without a fight."

Doing something, in this case, constituted Coats calling outdoor sign company Fairway. The mother was interested in purchasing billboard space in Snellville and maybe Loganville, and inquired about the price.

Fairway did her one (OK, about a million) better.

They offered to put Mandie's ad up on every vacant electronic billboard slot they had, throughout the metro Atlanta area. The billboards have been up in 12 separate locations for about a month now.

"They don't even know us," Coats said. "They are just amazing."

Said Fairway sales manager Donna Stern: "After I heard her story, I thought, 'This is not about money.'"

Now it's time to get Mandie a kidney.

The 22-year-old, who lives with her fiance, had a kidney transplant in 2004, and, despite not adapting ideally to it, made it last for about five years. While in the process of getting back on the donor list, she started having blood pressure problems. That led to a hysterectomy, seizures and a stroke.

Her body is home to five or six particular antibodies that make it especially hard to accept a transplant.

"You don't ever hear her complain," Coats said. She's doesn't say, 'Why me?' ever. She just keeps going."

The billboards have undoubtedly helped bring in potential donors.

Coats said Mandie's living donor coordinator at Piedmont Hospital has received "hundreds and hundreds" of phone calls since the roadside ads started scrolling. It's hard to say if the actual donor has been found yet, because the process of determining a match can take a few months.

Those interested can call 404-605-2430.

Stern said her company plans to keep the billboards up as long as they can.

"There is no timeline," she said. "The objective is to help Mandie find a donor. So as long as we have space available, that's what we plan to do."

All Mandie and her family have left to do is wait and hope.

"This child has survived so much throughout her life," Coats said. "I told her she's not going to go anywhere."

Comments

kevin 1 year, 5 months ago

Good luck. I know a lady that has been on the waiting list for 7 yrs. now.

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