Some may say they’d walk to the ends of the earth for the one they love most. And for Wayne Winters, a 74-year-old from Utah, it seems he’ll do just that.
Recently, Winters started walking the streets near his home every day to find his wife Deanne a kidney. He wears a sandwich board that bares a simple message: “Need Kidney 4 Wife,” with her blood type, A-, and his contact information.
“I don’t walk real fast,” he told Fox 13. “I’m trying to get a kidney for my wife. [She] has stage 5 kidney failure. She’s on dialysis and she doesn’t like it. It’s horrible … I felt like I needed to do something.”
Winters says he was inspired by Larry Swilling, who made headlines back in 2012 when he was seen wearing a sign with the same plea for his wife Jimmy Sue. She was born with one kidney that began to fail, and the first time he walked the streets it was nearly 94 degrees.
Swilling’s efforts paid off when Jimmy Sue received a new kidney on September 11, 2013. Unfortunately, she died in February of this year after complications related to Parkinson’s disease. But what her husband did for her inspired the nation — and Winters wanted to do the same for his wife of 26 years.
Winters admits that it’s hard to see Deanne in pain, but he says he’s received overwhelming support. He even thinks they may have found a match already — a man who came up to him and expressed interest on the first day of this journey.
But even after he knows for sure, Winters says his efforts aren’t over. On the back of the sandwich board is another message: “1,000 Kidneys Needed Utah/Idaho.” And he’s right — the waiting list for any transplant is long. According to the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho, over 97,000 individuals are currently on that list.
Winters says he won’t stop trying to get people to donate, saying it’s now his “life mission.”
No matter how slow he walks, Winters will continue down busy streets until he finds a definite match, and once he gets a kidney for Deanne, he says he’ll have his “wife back the way she was: normal, helping people, loving people.”