Craig man preparing to donate kidney to wife |

Craig man preparing to donate kidney to wife

Ben McCanna

This summer, the woman who stole John Milligan's heart 18 years ago may also get his kidney.

Jane Milligan, 45, needs a kidney transplant. John, 44, is in the process of offering one of his.

The Milligans have lived in Craig for nearly 12 years and have hosted Horizons Specialized Services clients in their home for most of that time.

They have four children and five grandchildren.

John takes a light approach to his potential organ donation.

"In all honesty, she did say it would cost me everything to marry her," he joked. "And, her mother also told me she was very expensive."

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Today and Monday, the couple will be at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to learn whether John is a suitable donor.

The Milligans have already laid much of the groundwork, John said.

"I've already passed all the blood work," John said. "I am like 97 percent in there."

Twenty-three years ago, Jane was diagnosed with diabetes. She successfully managed her illness for nearly two decades, but, in 2007, her kidney function began to decline.

Now, Jane suffers from End-Stage Renal Disease.

John will undergo a series of evaluations today and Monday, including a psychological exam, at Cedars-Sinai.

"They want to see if I'm crazy enough to give up a kidney," he joked. "But seriously, they want to make sure there's no coercion and I'm decently sane."

On Monday, medical staff at Cedars-Sinai will inject dye into John's blood and perform a CT angiogram.

"As long as my health is good — and it is — we should get the green light," John said.

If so, the Milligans' doctor will schedule the transplant surgery for this summer.

In the meantime, the couple, their friends and a nonprofit group have joined together to organize a series of fundraisers in Craig. The effort has been dubbed the Save Jane Campaign.

Craig resident Lori Kurz is the campaign's chairwoman.

She said the nonprofit National Foundation for Transplants deserves much of the credit for the campaign.

"They've been wonderful," she said. "We couldn't have done this much without them."

With help from the foundation, the group has planned three upcoming events.

First, on March 25 and 26, Save Jane Campaign volunteers will set up a table at the annual Spring Expo at Centennial Mall, 1111 W. Victory Way. Volunteers will sell cookbooks, candy and raffle tickets for an Ibanez electric guitar. Raffle tickets can be purchased for a suggested $2 donation.

Kurz said the Ibanez belongs to John.

"It's pretty much his prized possession," Kurz said.

The raffle drawing will take place several weeks later during an indoor garage sale organized by the campaign. The sale begins at 9 a.m. April 23 under the grandstands at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Items at the garage sale will benefit the Milligans, and the raffle winner will be announced at 2 p.m.

Also, the Save Jane Campaign has booked the local band, Blue Rooster, to play a benefit show at 6 p.m. April 16 at the Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave. Tickets are $12 and include a barbecue sandwich and drink.

To purchase raffle tickets, show tickets or to donate items for the garage sale, call Kurz at 620-6505.

The fundraising goal for the campaign is $20,000, John said.

The money is not specifically for the transplant. Rather, it's for living expenses while the couple is in Los Angeles this summer.

John said the surgery must be performed at Cedars-Sinai and the couple must live in Los Angeles for post-surgical checkups.

"We have to go to Los Angeles because (Jane's) antibodies are at 93 percent, which is very high," John said. "Normally, you would not get a transplant anywhere near 80 percent.

"But, there's a doctor out at Cedars-Sinai that can lower her antibodies. … She has to live out there for three months following the transplant. I'm going to stay out there a month, then I'm going to come home."

The Milligans currently provide a host home for two clients of Horizons Specialized Services.

John said he'll be eager to return to Craig after surgery to continue his hosting duties.

"We're trying to keep our home in Craig," John said of the need to raise money. "We don't want to live in Los Angeles."

John said he didn't think twice about offering Jane his kidney.

"She's my best friend," he said. "We'll be together for quite some time."

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