‘We’re still looking:’ Family continues search to find kidney for son

Signs posted on cars attract attention, go viral

ORLANDO, Fla. – More than a year after their search started, the Pannullo family continues to look for a kidney donor for their 23-year-old son, Rene Lopez.

“We’re still looking,” father Richard Pannullo said. “It’s a long process.”

Data from the United Network for Organ Sharing details how the pandemic postponed most transplants until at least May.

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Through mid-September, the organization tallied 3,856 living donor transplants performed so far in 2020, compared to the 5,208 through the same timetable last year.

News 6 first spoke to the Pannullo family last year, when they first posted signs on their cars which read:

Our son is in desperate need of a kidney transplant...if you are interested in giving the gift of life by donating a kidney please call us at 407-280-3564.

After six unsuccessful matches, Pannullo said their search for a donor continues even during the pandemic.

“Over the last few months, we’ve had very little calls because of COVID-19,” he said. “People don’t want to put themselves through the testing.”

The car signs received some renewed interest recently. Someone took a picture of one sign and posted it on social media. That photo has been shared more than 110,000 times and counting.

“The phone didn’t stop ringing for this since (it was posted on) Twitter,” Pannullo said.

So far, the family told News 6 among the hundreds of calls, at least 12 new people appear prime to be tested as they wait for a match.

“We’ll answer and do the best we can cause we need to find a donor,” Pannullo added. “They don’t have to be in Florida to do this, they can be anywhere in the country. If you’re a match based on blood type and antibodies, we’ll do anything to get them here.”

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