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The question on everybody’s lips used to be “Who shot JR?” But Larry Hagman, the man who brought JR Ewing to worldwide fame in the television series Dallas, survived a disaster of a different kind 13 years ago when a liver transplant saved him from an untimely death. And now the 76-year-old actor is making people aware of the disease that nearly killed him, and spent this week encouraging people to get tested for kidney and liver disease and to sign up as organ donars.

“Some people just won’t give their organs, and I’ll never understand why,” he said. “Why throw ’em away?”

Hagman, also known for his starring role in I Dream Of Jeannie, spent Wednesday in Seattle promoting the work of the Northwest Kidney Centers, a non-profit organization that provides dialysis treatment to over 1,300 patients. As well as visiting patients, Hagman found the time to record a Public Service Announcement to raise awareness of the agency’s newest center, the SeaTac Kidney Center and Pavilion.

“Just his presence in our dialysis center was amazing,” said Ingrid Goodwin, a spokesperson for the organization. “The patients were so excited.”

The Northwest Kidney Centers first rose to prominence in 1962, when they pioneered kidney dialysis after breakthroughs made by Dr Belding Scribner of the University of Washington. In May they are set to host a kidney health fair at the African American Academy in Seattle, which aims to educate people about the hidden dangers of kidney disease, a shadowy killer that affects one-in-nine people in the US.

“It is so important to get the word out – transplantation saves lives,” said Hagman. “We recycle everything these days – paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, tires – why not recycle ourselves?”

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