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Couple takes kidney search into their own hands with billboard

More than 100,000 people across the country are waiting for kidney transplants – thousands in Tennessee – with no clear fix in sight.

Many patients wait years, and sometimes never get their organ. One East Tennessee couple is taking their search into their own hands.

"I thought, ‘You know, there is something more I know I can do,’” said Tracy Price.

So they put up a billboard on the side of the Parkway in Sevierville, asking for someone, anyone, to come forward and give her husband the gift of life.

“I wanted to get a bigger platform for him,” said Price. "I felt a little strange about it at first because it's asking somebody to do something…that is a pretty large sacrifice that I'm not sure I would be able to rise to. But she want to do anything she could to fight for me."

Though their search methods are unique, the Price’s situation is not. In Knoxville, hundreds are on the waiting list at UT Medical Center.

People like Sheilagh Barnett, a wife and mother of two, who found out she would need a transplant earlier this year.

Barnett is one of the thousands of Tennesseans waiting for a kidney transplant. Hundreds of people are waiting in East Tennessee.

“"I was terrified. It's a scary thing to face,” she said.

With such a shortfall in supply, even doctors are encouraging their patients to find their own donors.

"[It’s a] very, very difficult position to be in to ask for that kind of favor…. But what I tell them is don't be afraid to tell your story because you never know what person may be out there that's just looking for the opportunity,” said Dr. Alex Cantafio, a UTMC transplant surgeon. “It is an awe-inspiring event every time I see that someone comes through for that altruistic act.”

As for the Prices, they have faith that everything will work out.

"Well I think God put us on this earth to help each other in ways that we might not know we can,” said Tracy Price. "He's my best friend … he's my soulmate. This gift would not be only for him but for me as well to hopefully have a longer life with him."

A gift they hope is out there somewhere.

If you're considering a donation -- you can call the Prices at (865) 607-4601 to be connected with their doctors. Or you can become a living donor for Sheilagh by calling the UT Center for Transplant Services at (865) 305-9236.