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Lyman man searches for kidney donor

Maine has more registered organ donors than any other New England state, according to the New England Donor Service. Mainer Chad O'Malley needs one.

LYMAN, Maine — A statewide campaign, raising awareness about the importance of organ donation, launched Wednesday. 

According to the New England Donor Service, Maine has more people who register as an organ and tissue donor at the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) than any other New England State. 

In 2020, over 1,027 lives were saved here in New England because of the generosity of individuals who became organ donors. Thousands of more lives were enhanced through the gift of tissue donation. 

Right now, more than 6,500 people in New England await life-saving organ transplants, according to New England Donor Services. 

Chad O'Malley of Lyman, Maine, is seeking a kidney transplant. For the last five years, Chad has known his kidneys were failing. Two years ago, he learned he had Stage 5 kidney disease. 

Speaking to NEWS CENTER Maine, Chad recalled the day he learned the news. "The doctor told me I needed to put a catheter in and start kidney dialysis." 

Now, three times a week, Chad goes to Biddeford for kidney dialysis. It's a process that takes several hours at a time and prevents him from traveling. 

Chad said a new kidney would not just give him a fresh start on life, but his beloved wife Melanie as well. 

"I don't know how I got lucky enough to get her," Chad said, showing photos of Melanie to NEWS CENTER Maine. We happened to speak with Chad on their ninth wedding anniversary.

Melanie hoped to donate one of her kidneys and went through the trials to determine if she was a match. Unfortunately, Melanie has more veins leading to her kidney than the average person, which does not allow her to be a donor for her husband. 

"She was devastated by that," said Chad. "She really wanted to do that and wanted to have a lot longer with me."

With the goal of helping families like Chad and Melanie, on Wednesday, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows unveiled a campaign to raise awareness about organ donation across the state. 

"One single donor can change the lives of up to 50 people," said Bellows in a press conference. 

Now, various banners will be placed in Bureau of Motor Vehicle locations across the state, all saying that registering to be an organ donor can save a life. 

The spokesperson for the New England Donor Service Matt Boger said, "It's a voluntary choice but we encourage people to say yes. You are more likely to need a transplant than ever become an organ donor."

Whether you choose to become a living donor or a registered one through the BMV, there's incredible power in that decision.

"If you're able to donate something and you can, you're literally saving someone's life," Chad said. 

To find more information and register to become an organ donor, visit RegisterME.org.

If you're a match for Chad O'Malley and would like to change his life by donating a kidney, email: Mbrooks_33@yahoo.com

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