A billboard in Drumheller, Alta., of Jim Lomond, 54, who is looking for a kidney donor. (The Canadian Press)

VIDEO: Alberta man hopes billboard will find him a kidney donor

Jim Lomond has a rare disorder that causes inflammation and damages his kidney tissues

The large billboard overlooking the town of Drumheller is hard to miss.

Next to a photo of a smiling man in a blue shirt, his arms crossed, the sign reads: “Jim really needs a kidney donor.”

Jim Lomond, a 54-year-old former oilfield worker, has been waiting for the last four years for his fourth kidney transplant. He has rare B-negative blood, which makes finding a donor that much more difficult.

He keeps a positive attitude, but says it’s hard being on a waiting list and waiting for the phone to ring.

“It’s demoralizing to know you’re on a machine to keep you alive,” says Lomond, brushing away a tear, as he sits in his home in Carbon, a village near Drumheller.

“I want to have a normal life and do what everybody else does.”

Lomond says someone involved with his daughter’s high school football team suggested using a billboard to find a donor. Fundraising helped pay for the sign. Posters also went up in business windows, at the local rink and on transport trucks.

He’s received one call, but didn’t hear back from the person.

Putting up a billboard costs between $1,500 and $2,000 and rental is about $200 a month, says Fred Makowecki of Image Crafter Signs in Drumheller.

He helped another resident in need of a kidney, also named Jim, put his search on a billboard and on bumper stickers last year.

It worked.

“Now we’re working on the other Jim.”

Going directly to the public isn’t unheard of.

Eugene Melnyk, billionaire owner of the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League, made a public plea for a living liver donor in 2015. He had end-stage liver failure and his family or friends were medically suitable donors.

“He put it on Facebook, he put it out on his Ottawa Senators website, and he advertised and he ended up getting a liver,” recalls James Breckenridge, president of the Canadian Transplant Society in Toronto.

More than 500 people volunteered to give a portion of their livers to Melnyk, and one was selected.

Breckenridge says about 3,000 people in Canada need a kidney right now.

The need is bound to continue. A transplanted kidney lasts about 10 to 15 years before it gives out.

Michael Terner of the Canadian Organ Replacement Register at the Canadian Institute for Health Information says the demand for transplants is being driven by higher rates of kidney failure. And the No. 1 cause of kidney failure in Canada is diabetes.

“The transplant is by far the gold standard procedure here,” he says. ”For those who are on dialysis, about 44 per cent will survive past five years. You can’t live without it.”

Alberta is considering whether to take Nova Scotia’s lead by bringing in presumed consent for organ donation. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, when told last week of Lamond’s billboard plea, says people shouldn’t have to take matters into their own hands.

“That’s very sad if people have to go to that extent,” he said.

Lomond, who moved to Alberta from Newfoundland in 1997, has Berger’s disease, a rare disorder in which a protein buildup causes inflammation that damages kidney tissues.

READ MORE: More than 200 patients died waiting for organ transplants in 2018, report says

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer
City of Wetaskiwin cases rapidly climbing

City of Wetaskiwin reporting 11 active cases of COVID-19

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

Rachel Notley, leader of Alberta’s official Opposition, speaks in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Notley says the government needs to sharply ramp up the number of contact tracers if it wants to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Opposition calls for more COVID-19 contact tracers as case numbers rise

Alberta has about 800 tracers, and chief medical health officer Dr. Hinshaw says more are being recruited

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. Hospital and health-care workers who staged a one-day illegal walkout returned to work Tuesday while politicians swapped recriminations and accusations in the house over the dispute. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta health staff return to work, surgeries resume after one-day walkout

AHS estimated 157 non-emergency surgeries, most of them in Edmonton, had to be postponed as a result of the walkout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Most Read