Indiana University East Professor of Education Jerry Wilde and alumnae Leah Hostalet and Becky Melton will appear on the “TODAY” show June 4 to bring awareness to the need for kidney donations in the United States.
Wilde said the “TODAY” show crew visited in April at the home of Hostalet, who now lives in Brownsburg. They recently received word from the show with the date the interview would air.
“It is a nice focus on how this one particular case led Leah to start Find a Kidney Central and that has led to a number of other transplants nationwide,” Wilde said. “There is such a critical shortage of donors and the need grows daily. Over 96,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States.”
In addition to their appearance on the “TODAY” show, Wilde, Melton and Hostalet will be guests on the “Lisa Oz Show” this summer. They traveled to New York in April to record the interview with Lisa Oz and CBS Medical Correspondent Dr. Jonathan LaPook. An air date for the interview is not yet available.
Hostalet said the appearances on the “Lisa Oz Show” and “TODAY” show is to connect potential donors with those in need and to save lives.
The “TODAY” show interview was a very emotional day all around, Hostalet said.
“We talked about the whole Jerry story, and then my continued work with my Find a Kidney Central Facebook page,” Hostalet said. “It was so hard to put my passion for helping those in need of transplants into words.”
Wilde had previously had kidney failure and went through dialysis before receiving a kidney transplant, but he developed cancer on the donated kidney and was in need of a new transplant. Wilde’s health was declining quickly and he had been going through kidney dialysis for two years. Two previous matches failed.
That’s when Hostalet stepped in and created the Facebook fan page, Find a Kidney for Jerry, that she administered in an effort to help Wilde find a match. She continues to help others in need through her Facebook page, Find a Kidney Central, where she hopes to connect participants with a potential donor while educating those in need about how to create their own fan pages.
Hostalet said she currently has 270 people with pages on Facebook linked to Find a Kidney Central and that about 60 transplants have taken place since she started Find a Kidney Central on February 24, 2012 (Wilde’s transplant day). She said some of those 60 people received deceased donor kidney or from a family member or friend, but the others found their match on Facebook because of their page.
Find a Kidney for Jerry is how Melton discovered Wilde’s need for a kidney. Melton decided to go through the screening process to find out if she could be a match for Wilde. Melton passed and was approved for the kidney transplant. Wilde and Melton underwent surgery for a successful transplant surgery at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.
“Being a kidney donor has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I hope many, many more people will get to feel how great it is to know they’ve saved a life. There’s nothing like it. It’s an honor and a blessing,” Melton said.
For Wilde, he said his first trip to New York City to record the “Lisa Oz Show” brought a chance to spread the message about the need for kidney donations with two of the most amazing individuals he says he has ever known. Since Melton found out she was a match for Wilde through Hostalet’s Facebook page, the three have had a unique bond.
“I’ve just been absolutely blown away,” Wilde said. “Any day the three of us spend together is a good day. We really have a special connection.”
Melton said the trip to New York was a blast filled with tourist attractions and time spent together.
“It was fun spending so much time together, and we had some great heart to hearts throughout the trip. I love that guy! Being behind the scenes at a production studio in Manhattan was surreal,” Melton said. “If that was my five minutes of fame, I’m satisfied…it was incredible. But the publicity for organ donation needs to live on. I think donation awareness is just starting to pick up speed on a mass media level, and Leah’s page is in a perfect position to help hundreds or thousands or, hopefully, millions of people. It’s not just another story, its life or death for so many people.”