Feb 15, 2024 | By: Lakeland News

Bemidji Man Appeals to Community to Help Find Kidney Donor

Feb. 14 wasn’t just Valentine’s Day – it was also National Donor Day, where some in need of an organ transplant hope and pray they can have more time with the ones they love.

For Manuel “Manny” Smith Jr., a 76-year-old Bemidji resident with a passion for collecting cars, including his 2004 Cadillac, he has a lot left that he wants to do, but he won’t be able to do any of that until he gets a new kidney.

[In] 2005, I was diagnosed with diabetes. From that point on to progression and decrease, it takes takes effect on your liver eventually,” explained Smith. “And that’s how I am and the situation I’m in.”

Once he heard the unfortunate news, Smith placed himself on the kidney transplant waiting list. But Smith was removed from that list just recently due to his age.

“The waiting list is from anywhere from four years to five years. By that time I’ll be 80, which I’ll be too old for the operation to be successful. The risk is too high. So they took me off their list,” said Smith. “It’s very discouraging. Like, what do I do next? Just roll over and die? You know, your life is pretty much over, and I’m not ready for that.”

Because Smith has been taken off the waiting list, he now has to rely on the kindness of a complete stranger to get his kidney, which is something Smith says he has to believe will happen.

“Your faith is what helps keep you going, knowing that there’s someone out there that cares for someone else beside themselves that will go to great lengths to help someone, help someone else,” admitted Smith. “And I have to believe that. I have to believe that.”

Smith says because of his kidney, he hasn’t been able to see any of his family for quite some time and knows exactly what he would do if he were to find a donor.

“There’s so many things I want to do, especially, I want to spend time with my kids,” Smith said. “I have two in California and I have one in Colorado. I would like to get all the family together, have a reunion. [I’ve] never had a reunion with all the family. That’s my dream.”

Smith has a blood type of B positive, and the blood type of a potential kidney donor needs to be compatible in order to donate. For those with blood type B, that means they can receive a kidney from those with a blood type of B or O.

If you or anyone you may know wishes to help Smith, you can contact Lakeland News here on our website.

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