Between family would like sign repaired to be able to help get his information out
LOGANVILLE, GA (July 21, 2022) – For nine years, a sign has stood on the side of Highway 78 through Between with the name of a person desperately in need of a kidney donor. Sadly, it hasn’t always been successful in finding a donor in time to save the life of the person in need. But when it was, it was truly a blessing. Such was the case of Kim Fuller who received a kidney in 2019 when the family of Gabriel Johnson donated his organs after losing him in a tragic car accident. His family had seen the sign on the side of the road every time they passed by and said that help prompt them to donate his organs. Fuller’s life was saved as a result.
It was originally put up on her property by Jean Westmoreland for her son, Brad Westmoreland, who was in need of a kidney. As it turned out, his wife, Tonya, was a match for him and was able to give him the life saving kidney. But they wished to give back for the blessing and decided to keep the sign up and let others who find themselves in need of a kidney put their details on the sign.
After advertising it was available again in June of this year, Tonya Westmoreland said they now have a new name to put on the sign in hopes of helping save another life, that of Mike Grazick, of Loganville. Grazick said he was told about the sign from a friend at church after recently being approved by Emory University Hospital for a transplant. But unfortunately the sign is no longer available, having been demolished by a contractor clearing the side of the roadway for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
“A contractor of the DOT hit our sign and now is refusing to fix it stating it’s in the right-of-away,” Tonya Westmoreland said, noting it has been in the same place for 9 years and the county has cut the grass on the bank many times without ever hitting the sign. “My mother-in-law saw them do it and the supervisor called me and said they would fix it and now the company got involved and won’t fix it.”
“Neither my mother-in-law nor myself have funds to do it and we we didn’t damage it,” she said. Despite calls to the DOT and the contractor, Westmoreland said they have not managed to get any commitment to fix it. (Editor’s Note: No reply to an email to the Georgia DOT asking for information on the incident has been received at this time). “The problem is we don’t have funds to move the sign and if it’s not where it was, no one driving along will be able to see it.”
In the meantime, the Westmorelands are sharing the information about Grazick in the hopes that someone will see it and help share the information with possible donors.
Grazick was born in 1985 and lost his mother to kidney disease in 2017. He was diagnosed with the same kidney disease at a young age and suffered with leg rickets also as a result. Having watched his mother battle the disease, struggling with dialysis from 2013 until her death in 2017, Grazick knows what to expect. He has now been told he is at Stage 4 and he is not sure how long it will be before he moves to Stage 5, which is end stage kidney failure. He has been put on the transplant list, but at a 7, which is technically inactive and he is not sure that he has the time to wait until he moves up to a more active status. As a result, he would like to begin seeking a living donor match for a kidney transplant.
“I have read the stories of success for transplant, and that gives me great hope. My blood type is O Positive. I would welcome the opportunity for match screening. The website www.emorylivingdonor.org has the capacity for screening for candidates for transplant. I would be most thankful for the gift of continued life through kidney transplant, where my mother could not. Her struggle with kidney failure has been reflecting with me in the last three years. I wish and pray to beat kidney disease, and enjoy the endeavors that life has to experience.”Matt Grazick