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An Open Letter to Save 

Mike Graf

Who Am I?

My name is Mike Graf and I need a kidney to live. I am retired after working over 40 years in the chemical industry. My wife and I were born and raised in Wisconsin and enjoyed 37 years of marriage until her unexpected passing in 2016. I have 2 children and 4 grandchildren. I would love to be around for a long time to see my grandchildren grow up.

My Interests

I am a sports fan (Packers, Cubs, Bucks) and am actively involved my church. I attend a weekly prayer devotion and participate in a men’s group that helps various pro bono causes. One of my interests involves sponsoring the education of adolescent children in developing countries. Murphy, my rescue dog had been abused for the first two years of his life. He has adjusted very well to life with me. My grandchildren and children are very special to me and I try to be actively involved in their upbringing. During this process, I have met so many wonderful people that are advocating for living donors.

What Happened to Me?

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in January 2021 of unknown origin. CKD has drained me of my strength and made activity much more difficult.

How I Help Others

Helping others has always been a part of my life that gives me satisfaction. I contribute financially to social concerns in including Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Relevant Radio, and a local school’s annual fund raiser for the needy. Each year I help a family in need purchase Christmas gifts for their children. I have also donated to a local neonatal ICU. That cause is dear to me because my grandson, Aiden, was born prematurely and a wonderful medical staff saved his life.

How a Kidney Will Affect My Life

Receiving a kidney transplant will enable me to participate in my grandchildren's schooling and extracurricular activities. I will continue to be able to be a father to my two young adult children and help them in their lives, and I will be able to continue to support social concerns in my community. I plan to become an advocate for living kidney donors. I want to have an active role in providing support and education to kidney patients and donors.

Persons interested in speaking with a living person about donating on my behalf can reach out via

Kidney Donation Basics

A kidney transplant will restore my health and will allow me to live a normal life again. A kidney transplant will enable me to live a long healthy life and continue helping others.

Most people have two healthy kidneys but can live a normal active life with only one. For that reason, kidney transplants have become routine in saving lives of people with kidney disease. Kidney donors typically spend two days in the hospital and soon resume normal activities.

About Kidney Donation

You do not need to be a match in order to donate a kidney for me.  In fact, a direct donation likely would not be an optimal match for me.  But, if you are healthy and eligible to donate, you could donate a kidney that would go to another person for whom you are a better match while giving me a “voucher” for a living kidney to be donated by someone else whose kidney would be a better match me (like a trade that benefits two or more kidney patients – each patient would receive a more optimally matched kidney).  The National Kidney Registry has facilitated more than 5,000 such matching transplants.


Your voucher would be activated upon your donation.  I would be prioritized to receive a living kidney in an upcoming transplant chain, typically within twelve weeks after your donation.


And, since each voucher donor starts a unique “kidney transplant chain,” I would receive a well-matched kidney, and your kidney would initiate a linked chain of compatible best-matching kidney transplants enabling two or three additional kidney patients to receive their own kidney transplants.  You can read more about voucher donation here:


For convenience you could donate near your home at one of about 100 kidney transplant centers nationwide affiliated with the National Kidney Registry.  To find a transplant center near you, see this list:


And, as a voucher donor, you would be entitled to the Donor Shield suite of protections not available elsewhere.  Those protections are described here:


I am working with the National Kidney Donation Organization to find a donor (NKDO is a not-for-profit organization assisting kidney donors and recipients, online at  To talk with a living kidney donor, please contact EJ Tamez at


If you would consider becoming a donor to save my life and the lives of others, please visit:

You Can Help Me Just by Sharing My Story

Even if you don't want to be or cannot be a kidney donor, you probably know someone who might be interested.  You can help me by sharing my story on social media and by email.


Just by sharing my story you will help to save my life. Sharing would be like throwing a life preserver into the water to save me from drowning.


Sharing the link for this webpage is the same thing. The more people who know of my need, the better my chance to reach a person willing to save my life by being a kidney donor.

About Costs

Reasonable cost reimbursement is legal. Title III of The National Organ Transplant Act, 1984, Pub. L. 998-507, allows for reasonable payments associated with the removal, transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, and storage of human organs as well as the expenses of travel, housing, and lost wages incurred by the donor of a human organ in connection with the donation of that organ. While reimbursement of expenses is legal, payment for the acquisition of an organ is not. In addition, the kidney recipient’s medical insurance usually covers the donor’s and the recipient’s costs of medical care and hospitalization.


Donors donating through the National Kidney Registry as Non-Directed Donors receive Donor Shield Protections. To learn about Donor Shield Protections please watch: and  read .


The National Kidney Registry (NKR) offers Donor Shield protections to all donors who participate in an NKR swap or donate at a  Donor Shield Center.  Those protections include:

  1. Lost Wage Reimbursement

  2. Travel and Lodging Reimbursement

  3. Donation Life Insurance

  4. Donation Disability Insurance

  5. Legal Representation

  6. Coverage for Uncovered Complications

  7. Reimbursement for Travel, Lodging and Lost Wages for Uncovered Complications

  8. Living Donor Kidney Prioritization if they ever need a kidney themselves.




Read about Financial and Insurance Issues at

More Information on Kidney Donation

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