Heading north on Route 1 near Oxford Valley Mall in Bucks County, Jerry Alampi greets drivers with a nice smile and a simple request: “Would you be my angel?”
In bolder letters below that question reads the nuts and bolts of the 20-by-60 billboard advertisement: “I need a kidney.”
The middle-aged high school teacher from Richboro is on a waiting list for a new kidney and said he can’t take anymore of the three-days-a-week dialysis procedure he needs to survive. So when he was offered three billboards free of charge for two weeks, he jumped at the opportunity.
“I haven’t had any crank calls, which I’ve actually been surprised about. I’ve also gotten several calls of encouragement,” said Alampi, who had a former student now working at Interstate Outdoor Advertising set up the free publicity. “Twelve people have called so far.”
Leaders in the donor field, however, adamantly disagree with Alampi’s approach, believing that it sends the wrong message about the current system for donating and receiving organ transplants.
“All the people on the waiting list don’t have those means, and then there’s a perception that the lists are unfair,” said Gift of Life donor program president, Howard M. Nathan. “We just don’t condone someone marketing themselves.”
Alampi says his advertisement will air about 10,000 times over the next 30 days on digital billboards throughout the Philadelphia region after Clear Channel Outdoor advertising decided to give him free publicity. The company did not return a message left.