"Kidney for Grandpa" billboards find Michiana man a kidney - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

"Kidney for Grandpa" billboards find Michiana man a kidney


A Michiana man is getting the kidney that will save his life, all because his family went to extremes!  We were first to tell you about their unique billboards back in January.  They featured Jerry Graf's granddaughter and a plea for a "Kidney for Grandpa."

The billboards worked!  The family has found a donor for Jerry.  Amy Pitrowski decided she wanted to donate after seeing the billboard, but she didn't see it driving down the street...she saw it on FOX28 news after watching an episode of Glee.  The best part?  She's a match! 

Jerry Graf's kidney's started failing years ago.  "I was on a list for a kidney, been on a list for two and half years.  Had no idea that I'd ever get one," said Graf.

His family wanted to make sure he did get one.  They put up billboards that featured a picture of Jerry's one year old granddaughter Adelynn asking you to donate the kidney that would save his life.  FOX28 spoke with the family then about why they were willing to spend thousands on the billboards.  Adelynn's Mother Ragen said, "I just know the relationship I had with my grandpa and I was really fortunate and I want her to have the same."

Now it looks like Adelynn will get a longer relationship with her grandpa.  Amy Pitrowski will be donating her kidney to Jerry this month.  "I have four and five year old grandsons and I wanted him to see that, what we've experienced," said Pitrowski.

Here's how it happened, Amy has to get up at 3:30 for work so she usually goes to bed early and records Glee on her DVR.  "Usually once the credits roll I Just stop the DVR and for some reason we watched the credits and that was the first newscast clip and I was like what's this about?"

Once she saw our story about the billboards she set up a time to meet Jerry.  After their first meeting Amy said she knew she wanted him to have her kidney.  "We just started talking and it wasn't awkward it was just like we've known each other," said Pitrowski.

Testing proved they were a perfect match, changing the outlook for Jerry's life.  "It's going to allow me to not go on dialysis to go on living a productive life," said Graf.

Most importantly it'll give him more time with Adelynn and the rest of the family.  Adelynn's Mother Ragen said, "My grandpa died the February before I graduated from high school and I keep thinking to myself I really want dad to make it to Adelynn's high school graduation."

Thanks to the family's creative campaign and Amy's kidney that seems like a real possibility now.  "It's gonna give me new life," said Graf.

Jerry Graf will have surgery on April 19th.  There is a threat that his body could reject the kidney but right now the family is very optimistic that it will work and Jerry will live a good, long life.

There is more good news too.  The billboards generated so many phone calls from other potential donors that weren't a match for Jerry but they could be for someone else.
For more info the family urges people to call the IU Transplant Center at 317-944-4370.


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