Community rallies around Lincoln County man who needs a kidney to stay alive

Local News

LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – Joe Hayes is in urgent need of a kidney donor. His wife, friends, and a local advertising company come to his aid.

“I’m in a desperate need,” Joe said “I want my life to be saved and I want to live.”

Joe spends 24 hours a week connected to a dialysis machine to stay alive. He was born with kidney disease. He lost both kidneys by age 30. A donated kidney failed 3 years ago. Dialysis keeps him alive but destroys his body at the same time.

“I can’t even feel my feet anymore,” he said. “I had a nail in my foot a couple weeks ago and I didn’t know it was there.”

His wife, Tonia Hayes, had a surprise for Joe.

“I could barely hold back tears,” she said.

She first created a Facebook page to spread the word about Joe’s need. Then she planned a surprise. She drove him to see a billboard on Highway 79 in Old Monroe. Now just any billboard – one that spreads the word to everyone who passes by that Joe needs a kidney.

Joe was overcome by tears of joy upon seeing the billboard. His friends were there to greet him with hugs and smiles.

“When they told me they wanted to donate it, I almost fell out of my chair,” Tonia said.

She had been shopping around for one and when she called DDI Media, they told her she could have it for free.

“We are trying to help fulfill this dream. If we’re successful, we’ll be ecstatic,” said
DDI Media President Vince Miller.

Because his body has been damaged by disease and medical procedures, Joe needs a living-donor. Time is against Joe and he has only a 30 percent chance of finding the match. Someone could provide him with a longer life.

“I love life. I just love it. I love my kids and my grandkids,” Joe said. “God’s given me so much and it can always be worse. He’s hoping someone can make it better.”

If you’re interested in getting tested to see if you’d be a donor match for Joe, you can email operationkidneyforjoe@gmail.com.

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