Georgia officer in need of kidney receives good news

by: Hope Jensen Updated:

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GREENSBORO, Ga. —

The Georgia police officer searching for a kidney match has received promising news thanks to thousands of people who have reached out to help.

Raleigh Callaway, 49, is in stage 5 kidney failure. The veteran police investigator for the city of Greensboro first shared his story with Channel 2 Action News last month, hoping to reach just a few people who might be able to help. But the family says what they got was more than they ever expected.

When Channel 2 first posted the Callaways' story on Facebook last month it spread across the country -- being shared more than 45,000 times.

Thanks to Channel 2 viewers, the family says nearly 3,000 people have called Emory University offering to be tested as a match for Raleigh.

Out of those, the family’s transplant nurse says the hospital has a “promising pool of people.” They have created a list of the top 10 most promising matches and are now testing them to find Raleigh’s “perfect match.”

The nurse also told the family 83 of the people who have called Emory to be tested as a match for Raleigh, have chosen to register as a kidney donor to a stranger. The hospital says it is still calling people back and expects that number to grow.

“It’s just incredible to see what sharing Raleigh’s story has done to bring awareness to the need for kidney donors,” said Raleigh’s wife Kristi Callaway.

The family says they’ve had just one major setback since the process began. Last week, they were told Raleigh didn’t have all the vaccinations he needed to be a candidate for a transplant. Before he could receive a kidney, he would need to receive antibodies for varicella (chickenpox). He received the first series of vaccinations last week and has to repeat again on August 25. After that, he will have to wait about 4 weeks before he could have the transplant.

During that time Emory will continue to search for the perfect match, as the Callaway family continues to pray that his kidneys will hold out that long and Raleigh will not have to be placed on dialysis, which could further delay a transplant.

Kristi says the support they’ve received is what has kept Raleigh going and healthy over the past month.

“I think what’s keeping both of us so focused is that word has spread so fast and the messages and the phone calls from everyone,” she said.

On Tuesday, Raleigh is completing all the scans necessary to officially become a candidate for transplant.  Kristi says his blood work still isn’t good, but it’s stable and they expect him to be officially placed on the list as soon as they receive the results from Tuesday’s scans.

The family is holding a fundraiser on August 16 in Greensboro called “Greene going Green for Kidney Disease Awareness.” The event will be held at Anita White Carson Middle School on the track and field from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. They are expecting thousands of people to show up at the event, including police officers from across the region.

The National Kidney Foundation, Georgia Transplant Foundation, LifeLink, and Emory Hospital will all be at the event to spread the word about organ donation and answer questions for potential donors. For more information on the event visit the Callaway’s “Our Daddy Needs a Kidney” Facebook page.

The family encourages everyone to continue to call Emory and be tested as a much, not only for Raleigh, but for others in need of a transplant. If you are interested in helping, you can contact the Emory transplant center at 855-366-7989.