'This is a new experience, but you do what you've got to do'

'This is a new experience, but you do what you've got to do' »Play Video
For the last 10 years, her kidneys have been slowly failing from a genetic defect. Now Roxanne Loomis needs a transplant.

EUGENE, Ore. - Roxanne Loomis never thought panhandling on the side of the road in front of the Gateway Mall in Springfield for a live kidney would get her so much attention.

"I've never panhandled before," the 63-year-old said as she stood on the curb holding a sign. "This is a new experience, but you do what you've got to do."

In late January 2014, Loomis along with friends, co-worker and family members held signs and waved to passing traffic.

"Caregiver Needs a Kidney" is what one sign read, among other messages related to asking the public for a live kidney donor for Roxanne.

Loomis, an ER nurse and single mother living in Eugene, is dying from thin basement membrane disease, which is slowly causing her kidneys to fail.

Legacy Transplant Services transplant nephrologist Dr. Tom Batiuk said Roxanne's disease is likely hereditary, passed down from her parents.

Both of Loomis's siblings have already had kidney transplants. Her sister Toni Gould has since passed away from complications associated with kidney disease. Her brother John is currently recovering from a kidney transplant in Eugene.

Loomis said her two children cannot donate a kidney because doctors worry the hereditary nature of her disease could one day affect them too.

While Loomis is on the national registry for a kidney donor, Dr. Batiuk said there are no guarantees she will get the organ she needs to survive. Her liver function is currently at 8 percent. A normal range is anything functioning above 60 percent.

The National Network for Organ Sharing reports more than 121,000 people are waiting for organ donations, and Batiuk said between 10,000 and 11,000 of them will get a kidney donation this year.

"The need far exceeds the availability," said Batiuk in his office at Legacy Transplant Services in Portland. "Being on the list does not guarantee that you will ever get a kidney."

Legacy Transplant Services reports the wait time for someone with O-blood type, like Roxanne Loomis, is approximately two years.

By then, Loomis fears she will have to go on dialysis, which would mean she could not continue to work or take care of her two horse Jet and Scooter.

Loomis said she is currently helping her two kids as they get through college.

After her curbside plea first aired on KMTR, it was shared and re-shared between television stations and online content providers across the world. "Desperate family turns to panhandling on the streets to find their dying mother a new kidney," reads the headline on dailymail.com.

That's when Loomis's phone and email inbox were inundated with people from across the country who wanted to help her find a kidney donor. Many of them wanted to donate their own organs.
Since then Loomis said she has had at least 30 people agree to go through with the initial online survey to find out if they could be a match for a kidney donation.

If you would like to help Roxanne find a live kidney donor, please contact her by email at zephyr52@live.com or by phone at (541) 302-4917.