Montco woman uses billboards to find kidney donor

June 22, 2012 2:18:21 PM PDT
A local woman in desperate need of a kidney transplant received help with a very visual campaign.

You may not know her name but her face can be seen high above highways in our area and even in Times Square.

53-year-old Aretha Swift is a mother of three and avid church member. She used to work fulltime as a community advocate in Montgomery County until her kidneys shut down.

"It got to the point where I just could hardly get out of bed and I was literally dragging," said Swift. Now on dialysis, she's been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Seeing little hope, Swift reached out to friends, hoping to find a living donor but was unable to.

That's where Thaddeus Bartkowski of Catalyst Outdoor Advertising comes in. His mother told him about Swift's story.

"She said 'I heard this story and I think you should do something to see if you can help her," he said.

After talking to Swift himself, Bartkowski reached out to other advertising friends. He and several billboard owners donated 24 billboards in all.

Gillespie Group also donated a website simply named A Kidney for Aretha - all hoping to find Swift a donor.

Swift and her family are grateful for the overwhelming amount of help.

"When I see her I am heart-broken and I need to stay strong for her," said Alainna Swift, daughter.

"Everything that has been done for us is just a blessing - my mom is a fighter," said Josh Swift, son.

While Swift continues to fight, her plea is now seen by nearly 1.2 million people each day.

She says she has a huge sense of hope and gratitude.

"I am just so thankful and amazed at the kindness of people, I am so grateful," said Swift.

The billboards will stay up about 12 more weeks.

It should however be noted that some organizations don't approve of people using billboards or social media to find donors - as they believe it gives an unfair advantage.

Others see nothing wrong with a mother trying to save her life for her family.

For more information about Aretha visit: