BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Mike Weishaupt is a 62-year-old Buffalo native and retired truck driver for the Buffalo News with a history of kidney problems.
"Mike was in end-stage renal failure in 1999, and a live donor that he worked with at the Buffalo News gave him a kidney,” said Mike’s wife, Sharon. “Mike has Type 1 diabetes. His kidney was functioning well, and he recently had an infection that the numbers declined. So we decided to ask for a kidney."
Mike's blood type is B-positive, and Sharon says the wait time for a matching kidney on the donor list is five to seven years.
"From a live donor, anybody with B could also take O. But if you stay on the transplant list for a cadaver kidney, you only can take B-positive."
Sharon recently had an idea to improve Mike's chances of finding a match while she was driving home from work.
"I was stuck in traffic, and I was reading the billboards and I said to myself, 'I'm going to go to Lamar, rent a billboard, see if Lamar would let me rent a billboard to ask for organ donation,' " Sharon said.
More than 80 people have already called after seeing the billboard on I-190 North.
Several of them have started to get tested to see if they're a match.
"I appreciate anybody that did call already,” Mike said. “From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it, and it means everything to me."
Sharon hopes the billboard does more than help her husband find a match. She wants it to constantly put organ donation on people's minds.
"That's the most important thing here,” Sharon said. “Not only my husband, but there's 500-plus people on that list that are waiting, and they're not getting their kidneys."
So people like Mike can continue to enjoy their golden years.
"I could enjoy my grandchildren, and I actually have a third one on the way. I'd like that, too," Mike said.
If you’re interested in donating, you can call the Erie County Medical Center Transplant Line at (716) 898-5001, Option 4.