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'Friends' With Benefits: Facebook Helps Find Organ Donations

'Friends' With Benefits: Facebook Helps Find Organ Donations

(Photos courtesy of Adam Melton)

Through Facebook, Becky Melton (left) learned that Jerry Wilde (center) needed a new kidney. In February, Melton gave Wilde, a stranger before, one of her kidneys. Leah Hostalet (right) launched Wilde's kidney-solicitation Facebook page.

Becky Melton’s “friend” request to Jerry Wilde, a complete stranger in dire need of a new kidney, came with a photo and a gift.

The texted photo: a picture of Melton, 27, holding a hand-drawn sign showing two kidneys and a message -- “We’re a match!” The gift: one of Melton’s kidneys.

Melton, a Richmond, Ind. resident, just days before had perused a Facebook page created in November to find a new kidney for Wilde, a 49-year-old Indiana college professor whose body had been ravaged by two years of dialysis treatments following removal of a cancerous kidney. Wilde was on a transplant waiting list and needed the organ to stay alive. The transplant surgery was successfully performed Feb. 24.

“I’d never spoken to her before she texted me,” Wilde told msnbc.com Friday. “Today I feel great. I’m stunned and honored and absolutely blown away that anyone would do that for me, or for any person. Becky always tells me, ‘Jerry, I’m not a hero.’ She is the definition of a hero.”

Facebook -- which on May 1 allowed users to post their organ-donation status -- is rapidly blossoming into a hub for organ solicitation. Within this surreal, new corner of the social network, the vast majority of pages are set up explicitly for people requiring kidney transplants. More than 80 people have shared their wrenching tales of illness and desperation, along with their blood types. These same “I Need a Kidney!” pages often carry an ominous sense that a clock is ticking toward a lifetime expiration date. (more)

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Article by Bill Briggs, msnbc.com | Read full article here

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