Albany woman uses billboard to find kidney donor

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Updated: 7/16 7:41 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – An Albany woman needed a new kidney, but none of her friends or family were viable matches.

An Albany woman decided to solicit donors on her own, using a billboard on Central Avenue. The ad also appears on several CDTA buses that are now traveling around the city.

The woman behind the creative marketing is Myrna Bernstein. She says she has a hereditary kidney disease that her mother and uncle both died from. Her own kidney functioning has declined, and she's hoping to get a new kidney before she has to go on dialysis.

"There is no cure for my condition, so my choices are either dialysis or transplant, and I would prefer to have a transplant because it would give me a quality of life,” she said.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 108,000 people are waiting for a kidney in the United States. The common wait time is 5-7 years.

"Dialysis affects your total physical condition. I watched my mother on dialysis, and it's very draining,” said Bernstein.

But is this legal? Can someone solicit a kidney donation? Caitlin Monjeau, an attorney who specializes in health law, says yes.

"The number one thing that you cannot do is offer payment. You can't offer money or anything that would be considered in kind transactions. If you're offering like a house, that would not be allowed either,” said Monjeau.

As for Bernstein, she says she's received several emails in response to the billboard and is hoping it will raise awareness of the larger issue.

"There is this need, well for me that someone finds it in their heart to make, to just think about it. Not maybe just for me but maybe in the future. That people do need this kind of help."

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