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Jan 14, 2016 3:36 PM

NH woman dedicating life to helping veterans turns to social media to find new kidney


STRATHAM - Jo-An Clark, 58, found out on Sept. 11 that she was on the waiting list for a kidney.

Living with type 1 diabetes for nearly four decades, she’s developed stage 5 chronic kidney disease and needs a kidney transplant to survive.

But - after learning it could take five to ten years to get a kidney while on the national waiting list - she decided to turn to social media to find a donor.

She and her husband Merrill launched a website, several months ago. It details Jo-Ann’s medical background and explains why she needs a kidney. It also appeals to veterans by explaining how she has dedicated her life to veterans after her son died five years ago upon returning from Iraq.

Suffering in silence with PTSD, 23-year-old Chris Journeau took his own life. Now his mother works with veterans to help raise awareness of PTSD symptoms.

Jo-An also works with local animal shelters to match veterans with shelter animals. It’s through Annie’s Angels and the program is called “Chris’ Pets for Vets” at AnniesAngels.net.

“Emotional support and companionship is what these animals offer," said Jo-An. "It’s something that the veteran can focus on who will be there no matter what.”

The Clarks shared their website on Facebook where it was read by thousands of people.

Since then, they’ve gotten calls from dozens of people who want to help.

“We probably got 80 to 90 responses,” said Merrill.

Currently, 30 people who learned of Jo-Ann’s need for a kidney through social media, are being tested to see if they qualify as kidney donors.

The Clarks are pleased they took the donor search into their own hands.

“All of this will circumvent six years on the waiting list,” said Merrill.

“I believe my son is with me, and I’m hopeful someone will be a match,” said Jo-Ann.

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