The Windham man who offered his kidney to a South Portland woman he had never met will finally be able to go through with the donation.

The transplant, which was put on hold after concerns arose about fundraising efforts for the family of the donor and about the health of the recipient, is scheduled for next week, according to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Josh Dall-Leighton, a 30-year-old corrections officer and father of three, offered a kidney to 24-year-old single mother Christine Royles after seeing a message she’d written on the back of her car seeking a donor.

The surgery was tentatively planned for May 19, until the hospital began to question whether nearly $50,000 raised through a crowd-funding campaign for Dall-Leighton’s benefit would violate laws designed to prevent the sale of organs.

The GoFundMe account was set up by a friend of Dall-Leighton’s with a goal of raising $6,000 to cover expenses for the six weeks he was expected to take off work to recover from the surgery.

After a story about the transplant was published in the Portland Press Herald and widely picked up by other media outlets, the donations poured in, raising questions about laws and ethical standards that prohibit profiting from organ donation.


Around the same time, Royles, who is on dialysis, was informed that her white blood cell count was low and she would have to get healthier before she could go through with the transplant.

“Following an external legal review of this matter, we are now confident that moving ahead with the transplant procedure will comply with federal laws that are designed to regulate organ transplants and protect living donors,” Maine Medical Center spokesman Matt Paul said in a statement Monday.

Paul said the hospital would not comment further “out of respect for the privacy and well-being of all parties involved in this case” and did not respond to a request for an explanation about how and when the legal concerns were resolved.

Although Royles is nervous about the surgery and new doctors and medications that come with it, she has a lot more to look forward to.

There will be fewer pills and doctor visits. She’ll be off dialysis and be able to eat whatever she wants. On Monday, she summed up what her life would be like after next week.

“More free,” she said.


Ashley Dall-Leighton, Josh’s wife, said Monday that they’ve known for about a month that the fundraising campaign would not interfere with the transplant, but were waiting for Royles’ health to improve. The Dall-Leightons were informed about a week and a half ago that the surgery was “a go” for June 16, she said.

Josh Dall-Leighton will go in for a final blood test Tuesday, his wife said.

The Dall-Leightons plan to wait for him to recover from the surgery before deciding what to do with the money raised beyond what they need to cover expenses, in case there are complications that create additional costs. They’ve discussed donating the money to a kidney foundation and the neonatal intensive care unit at Maine Medical Center, where their twins were patients when they were born.

Royles, whose kidney failure is being caused by an autoimmune disease, was placed on a waiting list of more than 100,000 in need of kidney transplants in 2014, but decided to try to find a donor on her own.

The Dall-Leightons were driving near the Maine Mall in South Portland when they spotted the message written in yellow paint on the back window of Royles’ car seeking a kidney donation from someone with type O blood. Josh Dall-Leighton insisted on texting the phone number right away.

Extensive testing followed that winter and, in March, they learned he was a potential match.


Ashley Dall-Leighton said their communication with Royles has been on and off while she’s focused on getting better, but that she and her relatives have become “a new part of their family.”

On the day of the transplant, the two surgeries are scheduled back-to-back with Dall-Leighton getting his kidney removed at 6:30 a.m. and Royles receiving it an hour later.

Dall-Leighton’s only concern now is that his kidney doesn’t work for her.

“He’s pretty cool, calm and collected about it,” his wife said. “He’s ready to go.”

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