Dani Campbell was an ER nurse before she came down with a severe kidney disease. She was spending most of her time in and out of the local dialysis center, waiting for a kidney donor, until her husband decided to put up a billboard to help spread word of her need. It turns out that a little bit of advertising can make a world of difference.
It was back in 2014 when Campbell first learned of her condition. She was fresh out of nursing school and went to Wheeling Hospital in West Virginia to get a pre-employment physical. The staff recommended that she see a doctor about her high blood pressure. She took their advice. That’s when they told her she had just 5% remaining kidney function.
They eventually diagnosed her with a rare kidney disease known as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). “It could always be worse. They could have told me I had six months to live. Instead, they told me I needed a new kidney,” Dani remarked.
The news put her career on hold as she began her search for a healthy donor. “It’s not like I’m asking for a cup of sugar or a ride to the mall. I’m asking for an internal organ. That’s big, so I would just be forever grateful,” she said at the time.
Dani soon started peritoneal dialysis from home, which allowed her to continue working as a nurse. The treatment was also portable, so Dani and her husband, Keith, could travel.
“We would put the exchanger on one motorcycle, usually mine, and then the boxes of the fluid bags would go on her motorcycle and we’d still go wherever. Thousands of miles a year that way,” Keith told a local news outlet.
However, the treatment eventually stopped working.
“I wound up with congestive heart failure four times due to being fluid overloaded because it wasn’t pulling off enough fluid, which ultimately led to a heart attack; I have to have stents because of it,” Dani said.
She then went on a strict inpatient dialysis schedule, which prevented her from working as a nurse. “I worked really long and hard to become a nurse, and then to have this happen is like a kick in the head.”
Luckily, the two could still travel as long as they were close enough to a dialysis center. “We have a camper we go to in the summer, and she’ll set it up where she can go to the dialysis,” Keith added.
They were heading out of town when they noticed something that caught their eye.
“There was a sign in a guy’s yard right by the road, and [it said] his son needed a kidney. It was there for the better part of the summer, and then one day we came by and it had a big thank you banner on it,” Dani’s husband recounted.
That inspired him to do something similar for his wife.
Eight Foot Famous
Dani had no idea what her husband was up to. She says she was at the dialysis clinic when she first heard the news. “The nurse who was hooking me up, we were talking, and she goes, ‘Are you on a billboard?’ I said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘Are you eight foot famous?’”
That’s when she realized her face was plastered above I-70 just outside of Wheeling, WV with the quote, “This ER Nurse Needs a Kidney. Exact Match Not Required,” and their phone number.
They spent the next two weeks hoping someone would call in. They got one “false alarm” when their doctor called and said he had a donor. She drove to the Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, OH and was admitted for the transplant; but a few hours later, she had to call her husband and tell him that she wasn’t getting a kidney that day.
After months of waiting, the call finally came. Dani’s husband told a local news outlet that she received a transplant last Friday at Wexner Medical Center. She’s still in the hospital recovering, but the doctors say she should be out soon.