Trucker Turns Rig Into Billboard He Hopes Will Save His Life
EXCLUSIVE TO TRANSPORTATION NATION NETWORK!
SANDOWN, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Mark Boomhower has been a proud trucker since he was 20 years old. These days, he navigates I-93 and Route 128 everyday, battling traffic in one of the most congested areas in the world.
That, however, is nothing compared to the other battle he faces everyday – one for his life.
Boomhower was diagnosed with kidney failure 15 years ago, and now at age 54, his time is running out… which is why he and his wife recently converted his tractor-trailer into a moving billboard: in the hopes of find a living kidney donor that could save his life.
His wife, Tammy, made the lettering herself out of vinyl after making several for family members and friends to put on their personal vehicles. “We thought, why not put it on the truck too?” Tammy tells Transportation Nation Network in an exclusive interview.
“What else do people have to do, sitting in traffic for hours? Let them sit there and read this,” Mark added.
Tammy chuckled while telling us that making the graphics for Mark’s trailer was “the hardest thing” she’s ever done in her life, but she knows losing Mark would be much harder.
Even still, time is ticking away.
“At 5%, they want you on dialysis,” Boomhower says of his kidney function. “I’m at 12% now.”
Boomhower was recently approved for the donor list, but the wait time is a dangerous 5-7 years. Considering his numbers have dropped drastically in the past six months, his doctor’s recommended another alternative: a living-donor.
“Would You Share Your Spare?”
Since the long-term transplant success is higher before beginning dialysis, the Boomhower’s are actively searching for a living donor. Miraciously, only one donated kidney is needed to replace two failed kidneys.
Benefits of receiving a kidney from a live-donor versus a deceased-donor are impressive. In addition to spending less time on a waiting list, kidneys from living-donors often begin working immediately post-transplant, whereas deceased-donor kidneys can have a delayed function, resulting in dialysis to supplement in the interim. Most important, there’s a better survival rate for the recipient, both long-term and short-terms, and the Boomhower’s have suffered the pain of this reality already. Mark’s father passed away at the age of 44 and due to complications from a kidney transplant.
Tammy immediately offered to donate her “spare.” So did several of Mark’s family and friends. However, all have been declined due to varying reasons. You see, the requirements to be a living donor are somewhat stringent.
“Your Body-Mass-Index (BMI) can disqualify you,” Boomhower explained. Certain types of medications, pre-existing medical conditions, along with excessive drinking and smoking. And, as it turns out, even your age can disqualify you.
During TNN’s visit with the Boomhower’s, they were overcome with gratitude to a fellow-truck driver: a 23-year-old OTR team driver who emailed in offering her kidney upon learning of Mark’s plight.
“They disqualified her because of her age. They would like you to be at least 25,” Boomhower said.
Still though, the Boomhower’s are filled with optimism.
“A lot of positives have come from [the truck]. People see it in traffic and they ask what they need to do to help,” Mark said.
What they need more than anything is to get the word out in hopes of finding a donor for Mark… before it’s too late.
Tammy is even offering to send bumper stickers to anyone willing to share the message on their rig (or personal vehicle).
I have 2 bumper stickers, We will mail out. Anyone want to help Mark spread the word? Let me know.
“It could save someone’s life… my husband’s life,” Tammy said tearfully. “I don’t want to lose him.”
Boomhower is involved in Kidney Paired Donation (KPD), meaning he does not need to find a kidney that perfectly matches his “O” bloodtype. All he needs is a generous donor, willing to donate their “spare.” In exchange, Mark is guaranteed a kidney that will perfectly work for him.
To begin the process to see if you could qualify to donate a kidney, visit bwh.donorscreen.org to receive a medical screening questionnaire. You can also email the Boomhower’s directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and learn more about Mark at the “Mark Needs a Kidney” website.
Transportation Nation Network will follow Mark’s story and keep you updated on his search for a living-donor.