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UPDATE: Kidney snow sculptor gets organ donation offers

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The Cottage Grove man who sculpted a kidney out of snow as part of an effort to find an organ donor says several people have offered to be living donors, the South Washington County Bulletin reports.

"It's like I've been punched in the stomach, but in a good way," Jim Gorbunow said with a laugh, the publication reported. "I'm beyond humbled."

Three people in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Louisiana have expressed interest in pursuing a donation, the Bulletin reports.

So has one of Gorbunow's neighbors, the Pioneer Press reports. "Why not? I only need one," said Louie Benejam, who lives a few blocks from Gorbunow. He told the newspaper he saw the sculpture and has been struggling with the decision about making the offer. "My heart was pounding," he told the publication. "I could not sleep that night."

Gorbunow himself noted that tests have to be done to determine whether a donor and a recipient are a match. But he said he was overwhelmed by the gestures of generosity. "I'm lost for words for what I'm feeling," Gorbunow told the Bulletin. "I'm touched by how many people want to help."

Gorbunow, with the help of his brother, sculpted the snow kidney before the recent cold snap. He put a smiley face on it, and posted a sign next to it about his search for a donor. Gorbunow has had three previous transplants, but the organ he received 13 years ago is failing.

In a tally last June, there were 118,617 people waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in the U.S., according to the National Kidney Foundation. Of those, 96,645 await kidney transplants. Last year, there were 16,812 kidney transplants in the U.S., the organization reports.

About 18 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S., the foundation says.

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