Columbus family searching for kidney via social media

Latonya and Christopher Wagner are hoping for a kidney donor for Christopher. He's currently on the waiting list.
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Christopher and Latonya Wagner have a love that dates back years, but life's challenges follow no timeline.

Just one year into their marriage, a persistent cough sent Christopher to the emergency room.

"They took labs, and that’s when they came back and said I had congestive heart failure, kidney failure," Christopher said. "It just came out of nowhere."

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That was around June 2016. One year later, in July 2017, Christopher started dialysis. And that has been his life ever since, spending three days each week undergoing nearly four hours of treatment. He's on the waiting list for a kidney, from a live or deceased donor.

"I have my good days and, you know, my bad days, but she’s my support system," Christopher said of his wife.

And Latonya is now more than that, acting as his advocate as well. She has posted several times on social media, including in the "Pay It Forward Newark" Facebook group.

She wrote, in part: "He and I have been together for almost 15 years and I cannot fathom the thought of living without him."

That type of plea is becoming more of a trend. Media outlets have covered stories of families posting signs, writing messages on vehicles, buying billboards and even flying a plane pulling a banner.

"At the end of the day, I want to get folks off dialysis, and, by whichever method works, I’m all for it," said Dr. Alejandro Diez, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Ohio State College of Medicine. "There’s no gift like the gift of life, the ability to allow someone to go back and have a normal life."

Dr. Diez says the awareness about the need for living donors has increased, at least partly because of the awareness spreading on social media. Last year, the transplant teams at OSU Wexner Medical Center performed around 300 kidney transplants, with around 300 involving living donors.

"You just don’t know who’s out there, you just don’t know if there’s someone that would want to help you. If you don’t ask, you won’t know. And I tell my patients, you have nothing to lose. The worst someone can say is no.

"You just don’t know who’s out there, you just don’t know if there’s someone that would want to help you," Dr. Diez said. "If you don’t ask, you won’t know. And I tell my patients, you have nothing to lose. The worst someone can say is no."

Resources on donations and transplantation can be found below: