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'Save our dad': Louisville billboard asks for living kidney donor

'Time is not on their side and it's about getting the community together and finding the proper fit.'

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A new billboard in downtown Louisville is catching the eyes of drivers in Spaghetti junction. Towering over the skate park is a photo of four children asking for the community's help in saving their dad. It reads, Dad Needs a Kidney! with more information found at SaveOurDad.com.

The family from Cincinnati is hoping someone will become a living donor for their father, Mark Friedman.

"This means a lot and all the outpouring we've had from family, friends and strangers has been really moving," Friedman said.

Friedman has a genetic form of kidney disease known as Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS. Simply put, scar tissue develops on parts of the kidneys that filter waste from the blood, and that can lead to kidney failure.

"Unfortunately, that's where Mark is at this moment," Drew Friedman, his younger twin brother said.

Credit: Josh Friedman
Mark Friedman with his four children.

It's gone from bad to worse in the last couple of months, with few options looking forward. There's dialysis, which is a short term solution. But a kidney transplant would be the permanent fix, which could come from either a deceased or living donor.

"Time is not on their side and it's about getting the community together and finding the proper fit," Josh Friedman, Mark's other twin brother said.

In a rare case, it runs in the family. Mark, Drew, Josh and their father all have FSGS.

Credit: Josh Friedman
Mark Friedman's brothers, alongside their mother and father.

"It's likely in 10 to 15 years my twin brother and I will need kidneys ourselves," Josh Friedman said.

With their genetics, there's concern it will be passed down to their kids.

"You hope and pray it's not going to affect them," Drew Friedman said.

"Thank God, so far, they haven't shown to have any side effects of it," Mark Friedman said.

Credit: Josh Friedman
Mark Friedman's four children, now 14,13,9 and 5.

Today, however, the focus is on Mark, with billboards popping up in places like Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Michigan, bringing awareness to living donors and encouraging others to sign up.

"If it benefits me and my family, my children, terrific. If it doesn't, it'll benefit somebody else," he said.

"The easiest thing to do is to go to our website, SaveOurDad.com. There's a very simple application which they can fill out and we'll get the process started right away," Josh Friedman said.

The best donors are between 18 and 70 years old and in good overall health. Your gender, race and blood type are not factors. The surgery is usually laparoscopic. A donor is home the next day and can get back to normalcy within six weeks.

"We're going to keep our head high and hopefully in the next weeks, months, we're going to find a match to save our brother's life," Josh Friedman said.

Learn more about the process of organ donation here. You can also fill out this form and let the Friedmans know you want to be a potential donor.

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