- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The director of an organ transplant program said Thursday he doesn’t view a fundraising effort to cover the expenses of a potential kidney donor and other costs as a “deal breaker,” although questions surrounding the effort have delayed the procedure.

Christine Royles of South Portland, who’s suffering from kidney failure, found a donor by painting a personal plea on her car’s rear window.

She organized fundraisers to pay bills and reimburse the potential donor’s unpaid time away from work. An online fund, set up by someone else, also raised nearly $50,000.

Though well-intentioned, the fundraising created a problem because hospitals must avoid any appearance that donors are being financially rewarded.

Dr. John Vella suggested Thursday that the problem can be resolved. Vella said the money flowed only after Josh Dall-Leighton of Windham responded to Royle’s plea and made an “altruistic” decision to donate a kidney.

“While the legal research involved has created an unfortunate delay in the process of evaluating this potential donor, we are making every effort to reach a point where this transplant moves forward,” Vella said at a news conference.

“This includes retaining outside legal counsel to support both the potential donor and Maine Medical Center in an effort to secure a clear interpretation of the laws as they apply to this unique situation,” he said.

Vella said a decision could be made by Friday after consulting with attorneys.

Dall-Leighton was originally scheduled for a final compatibility test Wednesday. Instead, he and his wife were told the process was on hold because of the donations.

“I felt attacked, like I had done something wrong,” he told the Portland Press Herald.

Royles has an uncle in Syracuse, New York, who’s a potential match, but Dall-Leighton is considered to be a stronger candidate.

“I don’t know what to feel,” said Royles. “I think I’m just kind of in shock.”

It’s not unusual for money to be raised to help defray costs associated with organ donation, such as missed work, babysitting or transportation. But those expenses, on average, cost about $6,000, the newspaper said, leaving a surplus that must be dealt with.

Vella said it’s frustrating that a potential donation could hit such a snag, especially when organ donations are in such great need.

“This is a wonderful statement of support from our community for both this potential donor and recipient,” he said.

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