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September 2019
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Veteran needs kidney after exposure to Agent Orange

wayne jewell

Looking for a hero - Wayne Jewell’s life is a shadow of what it once was. This Vietnam veteran and local volunteer is reaching out to the community in hopes of finding a kidney donor. Follow Mr. Jewell's search on his Facebook page.


In the 14 years Wayne Jewell has lived in Pickens County he’s given back through volunteer work with local churches and other non-profits. Now Jewell, who had kidney failure that’s suspected to be related to exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, needs help from the community he was once such an active part of.

Mr. Jewell and his wife Pat are reaching out to friends, family, and strangers for a Good Samaritan that could save his life by donating a kidney. 

“There’s not much to things now,” Mr. Jewell said. “My social life is going to doctors. I can’t work around the house because I get short of breath. Some days I just get to feeling so bad I’m basically non-functioning. You never feel good, but some days it’s worse than others.” 

Mr. Jewell has to spend over three hours a day doing dialysis treatments at home, which has caused high blood pressure and fluid retention. A kidney would vastly improve his symptoms, get him off dialysis, and let him live a more normal life. 

Mr. Jewell is on the waiting donor waiting list at Piedmont, but anticipated waiting time is between eight and 10 years - and by the time a kidney is available it will probably be too late. 

“Doctors said in eight years he won’t be healthy enough to have the transplant,” Mrs. Jewell said. “I don’t want to sit here and have people say, oh poor them, because in a lot of ways we are very fortunate. We don’t have to worry financially. We have a home and have great friends. We’re blessed, but he’s chronically ill. This is his only chance.” 

There is another donor program called Paired Exchange in which, if a donor’s kidney is incompatible with the person they want to donate to, the donor can donate their kidney to another recipient in exchange for a compatible kidney for their loved one. Unfortunately, Pat said because her husband’s blood type is O, which can be universally donated, there are not as many available through the exchange and the wait would still be around five years. 

To be compatible with Wayne, donors would need to have Typo O blood, either positive or negative. Donors can also receive financial aid if they have to miss work, up to six weeks or $10,000 and Mrs. Jewell said the medical procedure is much simpler now. 

“Wayne always did things and volunteered,” Mrs. Jewell said. “He’s helped with Tater Patch Players and been involved with church youth, things like that. He was always a get in there and do it kind of guy.” 

But last year was especially rough on Mr. Jewell, who in addition to complications from dialysis was in the hospital numerous times for issues with artery blockages in his brain. The Jewells also suffered the loss of several family members in a short time frame. 

“We’ve been through a lot,” Mrs. Jewell said. “But every day I thank God for the kidney we’re going to receive. I just know that phone is going to ring and someone will be calling about the donation.” 

If you would like to donate a kidney to Wayne Jewell, contact Julie Pfeiffer with Piedmont Transplant at 404-605-2950

Friends are organizing two yard sales to help the Jewells defray costs of anti-rejection drugs and other costs associated with his health issues. The first will be held at Tater Patch Players on Saturday, Sept. 29, and the second October 20 at Jasper United Methodist Church.