Selina's Search

Sun Sentinel

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Selina Hodge is tired of being on kidney dialysis for nine hours a day and still feeling sick, so she is taking a long shot: She is begging for a kidney donor – on Craigslist.

The practice is legal, has been done for years and succeeds on occasion. The Palm Beach Gardens woman, 28, said she fears that just being on the waiting list at the University of Miami transplant center won’t save her.


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“The doctor told me since I’m young and have been on dialysis for awhile, it’s a priority that I get a kidney. Scary thing I found out is that being on dialysis can cause heart problems. Please help me!” Hodge said in her Craigslist note.

Hodge is trying to tap the throngs who visit Craigslist to see the 50 million classified ads posted every month, most of which are peddling items and services.

Hodge posted her appeal in May and again last week. Since reported by an Orlando-area TV station on Monday, Hodge has received hundreds of emails from news outlets, well-wishers and at least one person – a Broward County nurse – who offered to undergo blood tests to see if she’s a match to donate a kidney.

“My head is still spinning from all the responses that I’ve been receiving,” Hodge said in an email. “I honestly wasn’t expecting all of this, but I’m beyond thankful.”

Hodge was born with spina bifida that left her disabled, using leg braces or a wheelchair. A few years ago, she said, it caused her kidneys to start failing.

She started dialysis three years ago, but had to intensify from several times a week to daily. Her relatives were not compatible donors.

She was put on the transplant list in September but is one of 986 people waiting for a matching kidney at theMiami center, 3,351 in Florida and 89,458 nationwide. Last year, 4,840 Americans including 178 Floridians died waiting for a kidney, federal figures show.

Some transplant doctors now urge patients to seek their own matching donors, said Joel Newman, a spokesman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit group that oversees the supply of organ donations.

Organs from deceased donors are regulated and generally go to matching recipients who are most in need on waiting lists, Newman said. But living donors can give an organ to anyone who matches, he said.

Several years ago, a UNOS committee decided that soliciting for a living donor on Craigslist – or anywhere – is proper as long as the donor is not paid with money or any other “valuable consideration,” Newman said. It’s a federal felony punishable by five years in prison to buy or sell an organ.

A handful of people have made news for donating organs to strangers found on Craigslist. The San Francisco-based service says it has no rule against soliciting for organs but bans ads that peddle “blood, bodily fluids or body parts.”

The ban is not perfect. Since June 21, an ad on Craigslist’s South Florida site makes this pitch: “I’m healthy and disease free. I’ve got a fully functional kidney for sale. I’m broke and need the money, and I’m guessing that you’re rich and need the organ. Let’s make a deal.”

A Craigslist spokeswoman could not be reached for comment despite attempts by phone and email.

blamendola@tribune.com, 954-356-4526

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