Transplant parents, donor to start organ donation fund

Transplant parents, donor to start organ donation fund

By Brandon Reid, Assistant Editor

Tony Rushford had no idea that 80,000 U.S. patients were on a list for an organ donation or that 16 people die on average every day while waiting for a transplant when he checked the box on his driver’s license for organ donation.

Three days after his 5-year-old daughter, Angela, underwent a kidney transplant in attempts to correct a polycystic kidney disease–a hereditary disease that eventually leads to kidney failure–Rushford wanted the rest of the world to have a better idea than he did about organ donation. He and his wife, Patty, announced on NBC’s Today show Jan. 6 that they plan to start a foundation to help other patients in need of an organ transplant.

“We just kind of really want to open people’s minds to the whole idea of organ donation,” Tony Rushford said, in an interview from Angela’s bedside at the University of Wisconsin at Madison Medical Center on Jan. 6. “I didn’t really know the whole need before. People are dying when they shouldn’t be. There are so many organs out there and so many people who are dying and not donating their organs.”

Angela Rushford had been on a cadaver from donor list for about six months before her parents placed a free classified ad in The Rock River Times seeking a kidney donor. David Harper, 38, of Mount Morris, who had never seen The Rock River Times before, responded to the ad and became the eventual donor after tests revealed he was a close enough match to Angela’s type O positive blood.

The Rushfords’ story has gained much national and international media attention, being featured on NBC’s Today show, the CBS Evening News, CBS International Radio News Network, the Associated Press, various publications and WGN, WBBM-AM radio and WMAQ-AM radio in Chicago. Reports suggest that Angela’s story has already motivated thousands to become organ donors.

The Rushfords and Harper have since established the Angela Rushford Children’s Organ Donation Fund at the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL). A press conference is tentatively scheduled for Monday, Jan. 13 to announce the scope of the fund. Watch our Web site, for details. In the meantime, anyone wishing to make donations in honor of Angela may contact CNFIL at 815-962-2110. Credit card donations may be made on the Web at

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