SC woman uses car as billboard, searching for donor kidney for high school sweetheart

Published: May. 7, 2019 at 8:33 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - Karyne and James Worthy are high school sweethearts. After 29 years as husband and wife, they share everything. There’s one thing, though, that Karyne can’t give James, but she’s determined to find it.

“A good marriage is to learn two words and those two words are ‘yes dear,’” joked James Worthy during our interview.

When you meet them, you quickly realize Karyne and James Worthy have decades of matrimonial wisdom in their pocket. When one cries, the other follows. And when one laughs, they both fill the room.

The pair met in 10th grade and attended senior year prom together before realizing they were a lifelong match. Now, they have generations of family to show for it.

"She's loving she's caring. She pretty much will do whatever for anybody,” James said. “Especially for her family, for her kids, for me."

But, when James went into kidney failure in 2013, Karyne quickly realized she wouldn’t be able to give James the one thing he needed desperately: a kidney. Due to her own health issues, she was not a candidate as a live donor. Now, in 2019, they’re exhausted waiting for a donor and Karyne decided it was time to try something else.

"Back in January or so the lottery was really really huge so I played one ticket,” Karyne said. “And I said if I won I'd put billboards all over the city of Columbia so that people would see that my husband needs a kidney and it would give us a higher opportunity for a call… I didn't win. So I figured the next best thing was to put it on the back of my car so people would see my portable billboard."

Her car now acts as a billboard, plastered with the phone number for the Augusta University Donor Center: (706) 721-2888. James is also registered at MUSC – that number is (843) -792-5097. They want anyone who sees it to call and get tested and see if James might have a match.

Every night for 10 hours, James is hooked to his dialysis machine and confined to his room. Doctors say one in 100 people might be a match because of the antibodies his body has built up. Now, they're waiting for the call that would set James free.

“Our luggage is already packed, we're ready!” James said. “Been packed for 5 ½ years."

James still works full time. Some days are worse than others. But no matter the hurdle, Karyne is there.

“She’s my support system,” he said. “She carries me… so. We're each other's support system."

Until they get that call, they say they'll wait and they'll pray, knowing that person is out there somewhere.

“I believe they are,” Karyne said. “I just believe we haven't found them yet."

You can connect with Karyne and James if you’re interested in learning more about the match and donation process on their Facebook page.

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