Missouri mom desperate for kidney uses signs to find a donor

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KTVI) – One Missouri mother is desperate to find a live kidney donor. Her campaign has expanded to include social media posts, signs in her front yard, coverage by local news outlets, and decals on her family’s personal vehicles.

“I have had kidney disease for many years, which has been progressing over time. My diagnosis is chronic kidney disease,” said Yelena Gass-Bronstein, a 1991 Ukrainian refugee. She worked as a nurse at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis for many years, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, before retiring due to her illness.

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“My nephrologist [kidney specialist] told me that I will need a kidney transplant and advised me to be proactive in searching for a living kidney donor. The wait for a deceased kidney donor is very long and can take 3-5 years or longer,” Gass-Bronstein said.

Her doctor also mentioned that receiving a kidney from a living donor has better outcomes during and after surgery in terms of organ longevity and fewer surgical and post-surgical complications.

“Receiving a kidney from a living donor can also reduce the chance of kidney rejection for me. My doctor also explained the advantages of having a ‘pre-emptive’ kidney transplant — meaning a transplant before I would need to go on dialysis,” said Gass-Bronstein. “Dialysis is very hard on the human body and compromises other organs, making transplant surgery riskier as well.”

Gass-Bronstein has made efforts to find a donor. She mentioned that several people have reached out to offer help but couldn’t ultimately donate due to their own personal health issues.

For those willing to help but unable to donate directly, Barnes Jewish Hospital has a Kidney Paired Donation program. Gass-Bronstein says this program can arrange kidney swaps if a donor’s blood type isn’t compatible for her needs.

“[The program ensures] each recipient gets the best kidney match,” she explained.

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Gass-Bronstein invites anyone interested in helping to contact her directly, where she can provide detailed instructions on how to get in touch with the Barnes Jewish Hospital Transplant Center and whom to speak to.

“I have tried various methods, including posting on social media: Facebook (my personal page and various group pages), TikTok, Nextdoor, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Neighborhood Patches. I also have a yard sign in front of my house,” she said. “My husband, daughter, and I have decals on the back windows of our cars. We also distributed flyers at places like Starbucks, the gym, and the library.”

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