A Franklin woman decided to bring attention to her great-niece’s need for a new kidney – as well as the needs of others waiting for organ transplants – by using a billboard to get out her message.
Darlene Jones said she heard about how another woman used a billboard to advertise her husband’s need for a kidney donation and how he eventually received one. She thought the idea might be worth a try.
“I work in tourism, so billboards are our life,” she said.
The billboard on U.S. 31-W near Interstate 65 in Franklin, which includes a photo of Jones’ 21-year-old great-niece Molly Copas, states that a kidney donor is needed for a local girl and asks people to visit vanderbilttransplantcenter.com or call 615-936-0695 for more information.
People can specify that they are interested in donating to Copas.
The sign went up April 22.
“I pulled into the drive, and I just sat there and looked at it and I thought ‘What have you done?’ ” Jones said.
But Jones said she told Copas, also of Franklin, that the purpose of the billboard was to help her get well and to have her life back.
“I would buy her a kidney if it was legal. She’s had a hard time,” Jones said.
Family members have been tested but haven’t been considered good matches.
“We can’t find a match,” she said. “There’s not a lot of my family left.”
While Copas is doing well, she can’t live the life of a normal 21-year-old, Jones said. She has to travel to Tennessee to have dialysis three times a week and take several pills every time she eats anything. She has been dealing with kidney failure for about four years.
Jones said she hopes the billboard will inspire people to consider organ donation. Even if those who contact Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville don’t end up being matches for Copas, Jones hopes they will end up being a match for someone on the waiting list for an organ.
“It’s not just for her, but she’s top of my list,” Jones said.
People just don’t commonly think about potentially donating organs, she said.
“You don’t think, ‘Well, someone might need a kidney,’ ” Jones said.