Minn. man’s snow kidney stunt attracts donors

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (AP) — A Cottage Grove man’s effort to bring attention to his need for a transplant by building a kidney sculpture out of snow was attracting a flood of offers by Thursday.

Jim Gorbunow told The Associated Press that media attention to his offbeat sculpture resulted in offers from potential donors around the country. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Wednesday that Gorbunow built the five-foot-high smiling snow kidney last week, hoping it would call attention to his failing kidneys and attract a donor (http://bit.ly/1gkZ9B1 ).

Gorbunow has had diabetes since age 7. He had a kidney transplant in 2000, and pancreas transplants in 2000 and 2006. Last summer he started to notice familiar symptoms that told him his transplanted kidney was failing. He gained 30 pounds of water weight, as his kidneys gradually stopped cleansing the toxins out of his blood.

“You lose energy and get tired easily,” Gorbunow told the newspaper. “You never know day-to-day if you are coming down with the flu or it’s because of your kidneys.”

One neighbor touched by Gorbunow’s plight has been among those to offer a kidney donation. “Why not? I only need one,” said Louie Benejam, who lives a few blocks away.

Gorbunow said he’s been getting calls and Facebook messages from around the country and even overseas. He’s directing potential donors to a University of Minnesota donor line, where they will be screened for a match, Gorbunow said

Gorbunow said that because of his previous transplants, it will be a high bar for finding a suitable match. But he hopes the high level of interest will turn up someone whose kidney will work.

“If you’re not an exact match for me, don’t give up,” Gorbunow said. “I’m not the only person who needs it. There’s millions of people waiting out there on a list. If you’re not going to be my donor, don’t take it the wrong way and decide not to do it. Help somebody else.”

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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