Thanh Huynh with his daughters Lana (middle) and Karen (right). CONTRIBUTED

Billboards go up as daughter searches for kidney donor for dad

Lamar Advertising is donating nine digital billboards that will advertise the case of one local man, Thanh Huynh, and his need for a kidney. Family-owned and operated Key-Ads, Inc. also has joined the campaign and is donating billboard space.

Thanh Huynh, 59, has dealt with heart issues and diabetes for several years and his family learned this year that his kidney function had been damaged; his kidney function is now about about 8 percent of what it should be.

Thanh’s daughter, Karen Huynh, has launched a grassroots effort in an attempt to find a donor. 

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“Family means absolutely everything to both of them,” said Karen’s cousin, Christine Ton. “There is nothing that they wouldn’t do for each other. And I think the love between a daughter and her father speaks volumes. He immigrated to give him and his family a better life and better opportunities and she just wants to do something to help him and keep him around. He means the absolute world to her and vice versa.”

Huynh immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam.

Keeping the billboards in play for four weeks would normally cost a client $9,000, said Lamar’s Tanner Hohenbrink. After Huynh was interviewed by News Center 7’s Molly Koweek on Thursday, Key-Ads reached out to see how they could put up their own billboards to help as well.

“Dayton is a very supportive community that comes together when there is a true need,” said Stephen Keys, vice president of Key-Ads. “There are plenty of people and organizations in our community that every day go above and beyond to help those in need of some sort of help. Family is everything and our family is happy to help in the effort. We hope the best for the Huynh Family and hope they continue to be Dayton Strong.”

The billboards went up on Sunday night. Since then, 13 prospective donors have called Huynh. A few of the callers said they had either just lost a father or had never had a father and wanted to help Huynh’s father any way they could, Huynh said.

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“He was the last person I told,” Huynh said. “I did not tell him I was doing it until they were put up. Also (he was the) last person I told that I would be on the news Thursday night. I just wanted to make sure it was going to happen. I didn’t want to get his hopes up or my hopes up. … When he found out about his kidney, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is exactly what I can do.’ I guess that’s just how my personality is.”

Lamar Advertising said the billboards will be up as long as it takes for a donor match to be found.

The family is working with The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and University of Cincinnati Medical Center to find a successful match in the pool of interested donors.

The average nationwide wait for a kidney donation is about 55 months, according to Dr. Todd Pesavento, the medical director for kidney and pancreas transplants at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. If a living donor who is a match comes forward, Pesavento said, the recipient can receive the transplant as soon as the donor is able to have the procedure. Donors are not responsible for the cost of the procedure or medications needed post-surgery, Pesavento said.

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