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San Diego kidney donor launches nonprofit to help others with cost of organ donation

Organ donors save lives, but the steps to become one are complex and can be expensive.

SAN DIEGO — Experts say 37 million Americans are battling chronic kidney disease-- and 100,000 of them are waiting for a transplant. Organ donors save lives, but the steps to become one are complex and can be expensive.  

It’s known as the silent killer: kidney disease. But what’s worse is the wait time is about five to 10 years to find a kidney donor. One man is hoping to change that by creating his own nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for those who want to save a life.  

"I'm so grateful but there's a lot of emotion," said Kim Wells.

Kim Wells – a mom of three— has been living with end-stage kidney disease and found out she needed a kidney transplant in June.  

Finding a relative donor quickly, she was able to skip dialysis – something she doesn’t know how to process quite yet.  

"I'm very very happy to be getting a kidney but I have a lot of emotional struggles because I keep thinking I'm not. It doesn’t feel real to me," said Wells.

Right now, there are more than 100,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant.  

Kim’s cousin’s husband just so happened to be the perfect match with Type A blood.  

And Glenn Cogan said it wasn’t even a question to help someone in need. After taking multiple medical tests, he got the green light to be a donor for Kim.

"That was around the 19th of August we got approved to donate and I could call her and let her know," he said. 

But the process to be a donor hasn’t been easy.   

"Oh by the way you need to be here one week in advance for pre-op examinations, make sure everything is still OK; and you need to stay for a one-week and two-week follow-up before we put you on a plane and send you back," Glenn said of the process. 

He is headed to Texas on Friday and he’s spent over $10,000 out of pocket.  

"How are we going to afford to get the family, myself there? The plane tickets alone are in the thousands. We have to find a place to stay," he said. 

Glenn said he realized there had to be an easier way to be a donor.     

He created Living Donor Support Network - a nonprofit organization dedicated to streamlining the process, offering a cash card to those who can prove they’re donating an organ.   

A site that could potentially save many lives

"It's a huge commitment for him, for his family," said Kim. "I love them all very much. They’re giving me a second chance at life."

The two will be in surgery Oct. 25.  The website for Living Donor Support Network is live and active now. Glenn said he’ll be reviewing applications Dec. 1.

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