, Newburyport, MA

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April 24, 2013

Dreaming of a donor

Silliker uses social media in search for kidney

It’s said that life offers many learning experiences, and Bil Silliker is engaged in one of the most vivid of his 47 years: how to find a new kidney for himself.

Silliker, married and the father of three, learned he had kidney disease about four years ago.

He describes himself as “healthy, feeling good,” and he works a full week as a CAD technician in the plumbing and mechanical sector of the construction industry.

But his tests haven’t been good lately, and there could be a time when he begins to need dialysis. So now, he is looking for a new kidney through a variety of online techniques.

Medical officials around the country note that April is Donate Life month in the U.S. for all of the key organs that help others stay alive.

Kidney transplantation involves obtaining a kidney from a cadaver or a living donor.

Living-donor renal transplants could come from a member of the family, friends or anonymous donors. An organ from a cadaver often comes as a result of paperwork designating an individual as a donor.

There are currently 96,080 individuals on the waiting list for a kidney, according to the United Network of Organ Sharing.

Silliker has been using Facebook to get the word out that he is looking for a kidney. His wife, Meg, has alerted members of her own network.

“My wife has friends on Facebook, many more than I,” said Silliker, who has five siblings. “The process is beginning.”

Silliker, who formerly ran a tea shop on Middle Street, appears to be taking a low-key approach to the search.

His online blog is titled “Diary of a Wimpy Kidney Disease” and he calls an entry “just another day in the life of a regular guy with kidney disease.”

He sometimes signs off his online messages by saying, “I’m Bil... and I’ve got kidney disease.”

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