Mother hits the road looking for a kidney for her son

Linda Laegel’s driven about 26,000 miles advertising for organ

By Nick Blank Staff Writer
Posted 8/21/19

CLAY COUNTY – A Middleburg woman has driven about 26,000 miles in a brown Kia Soul, searching for a kidney match for her son.

A sticker covering the back window reads, “Son Needs Kidney, O+ …

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Mother hits the road looking for a kidney for her son

Linda Laegel’s driven about 26,000 miles advertising for organ

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – A Middleburg woman has driven about 26,000 miles in a brown Kia Soul, searching for a kidney match for her son.

A sticker covering the back window reads, “Son Needs Kidney, O+ Blood Type.” Linda Laegel’s phone number is listed last, 904-466-8883.

Laegel, 71, wanted to raise awareness for her son, Randy Sheppard, 53. Diagnosed with renal failure in 2010, Sheppard waited seven years for a new kidney. He received a new kidney last spring, but he was told it was damaged during the operation.

The new kidney had a lifespan of a year and a half. The search started over. Laegel said she needed to actively draw attention to Sheppard’s plight.

“I’m 71 years old; I can’t sit around and worry,” Laegel said. “I’ve got to be strong for the family. That’s where we’re at, trying to get the word out.”

She remembers Aug. 21, 2017, when Sheppard received his new kidney. It was the day of the total solar eclipse.

“When (will he get a kidney)? We don’t know. We’re just waiting and praying,” Laegel said. “As a mother, that’s all you can do.”

Almost 100,000 people are waiting for a kidney, according to American Kidney Fund. The National Kidney Foundation estimates someone is added to the kidney transplant list every 14 minutes, and 13 people die daily waiting for a kidney transplant.

Laegel drives in Duval, Clay and Bradford counties and spends time on I-95 and I-295. A few social media posts went viral and the calls came.

She’s received about 150 inquiries from around the country. Some asked how they could find out if they were Sheppard’s match and others called for encouragement.

“It’s traveled like wildfire. People share it and it just gets out there,” Laegel said. “No matter where you drive, with this (sticker) on the window, I think people are wanting to be involved and want you to know they’re praying and comforting you to that effect. They let you know that they care.”

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