By David Highfield

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LAWRENCEVILLE (KDKA) — A little girl’s life was saved by a man who answered a plea on Facebook.

He agreed to donate part of his liver as part of a ground-breaking approach to help the little girl fight a rare disease.

It happened at Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville. And now, a few years later, there’s plenty of reason to celebrate.

Kennedy Stevenson zips around Children’s Hospital during her visit to Pittsburgh three years after her liver transplant.

And she has a message for our city: “Thanks for helping me with my liver!”

Kennedy, who’s from the eastern part of the state, had a rare metabolic disease. It not only threatened her life, but slowed her development.

But, doctors at Children’s came up with a revolutionary treatment idea: A liver transplant.

“Without a transplant, her prognosis would have been almost certain neurologic disability and death,” said Dr. George Mazariegos, a transplant surgeon.

Only part of a liver was needed, but because of her disorder, it could not come from a relative. So her mom, Donya McCoy, made unusual request.

“So Facebook was my largest network of unrelated people,” said McCoy. “So I put a plea out there, and in it, I put ‘I can’t believe I’m asking for this, but as a mom I have to.'”

Mike Thompson, a firefighter from Bethlehem, who happened to go to high school with Donya stepped up to help.

The transplant worked. And now, three years later, Dr. Mazariegos said, “What’s really exciting  is that she is doing fantastic.”

Mike and Kennedy sometimes hang out now. He joins in her birthday celebrations.

“We’ve been so incredibly blessed that someone like Mike did such a selfless thing to save her life,” said Donya McCoy. “I feel like I’m a witness to a miracle in my life, and I’m just so incredibly grateful.”

Kennedy’s mom and Children’s Hospital wanted to share this story to emphasize the importance of being a living donor.

David Highfield