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Kidney snow sculpture is a plea for new organ

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Minnesotans have been known to carve snow sculptures as a fun diversion during long winters; three teen brothers in New Brighton recently created a 16-foot snow shark in their front yard because it beat sitting around inside wasting time on their cellphones.

But the inspiration for Jim Gorbunow's work was more personal than most, KARE 11 reports.

Gorbunow, of Cottage Grove, is awaiting a kidney transplant, and the snow sculpture kidney that he created with his brother is part of his search for a new organ, KARE reports. The kidney, with a cheery smiley face on it, sits on a prominent Cottage Grove corner next to a sign: "Kidney wanted. You can be a living donor. Please email kidney4jim@gmail.com with questions."

"It could be anybody," Jim's wife Jennie said. "Jim can accept from A and O blood types. It doesn't matter if it's positive or negative."

Gorbunow had a kidney transplant 13 years ago, and transplanted kidneys typically last only about 15 years, he said.

"This one's just running on empty now," Jim told KARE.

Gorbunow is awaiting his fourth transplant, the Pioneer Press reported last fall. He is listed as inactive, or on hold, on the national organ transplant list but expects to become active if his health continues to decline, the South Washington County Bulletin reported in its own story about the sculpture.

At that point, he'll likely undergo dialysis while he waits for a donor, the Bulletin reports.

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.

Minnesota last year marked the 50th anniversary of its first successful kidney transplant, at the University of Minnesota, when Joyce Wallin received a kidney from her twin sister.

Last year, a man from Australia traveled to Minnesota to give a kidney to a Vadnais Heights man.

In 2012, six participants met up with each other in the Twin Cities after in a rare chain of three kidney transplants, which included six surgeries (two in South Dakota and the other four in Minnesota), KARE 11 reported.

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