When Jim Gorbunow was growing up, he loved building snowmen and the occasional snow fort in his front yard, but he never imagined building a 7-foot snow kidney named Kevin could eventually save his life.
"I'm hoping it will bring attention to the fact that people need organ donors. I'm not the only one who needs a kidney transplant so I'm hoping it benefits everybody," he said.
Gorbunow was diagnosed with Type I diabetes as a child and had to have a kidney and pancreas transplant 15 years ago. A blood clot led to getting another pancreas a few years later and now his kidney is about to wear out as well so he needs another one of those, too.
"The average lifespan of a kidney is 13 to 15 years. I'm in end stage renal failure. I can't go anywhere else with my kidney now. I have to have a kidney transplant. I can't live on dialysis forever," he said.
So last winter, Gorbunow made a kidney made of snow in his front yard that he nicknamed Kevin after a high school friend in hopes of finding a donor, and then a another one made of plywood that he put in his front yard last summer. His story made national news, but despite hundreds of offers to give him a kidney, none of the potential donors were a match.
"I've always been a guy who's kept a smile on my face. There are days when I'm home alone or driving, I think, how much longer do I have?" he said.
His latest snow kidney is twice as big as his first one, but no matter what happens, it's still not as big as his heart.
"I'll keep doing it after I get a transplant. I'll keep doing it because it's important for organ donations."
How you can help
Facebook: Jim Gorbunow Facebook page
Transplants.org: Donor pledge site