PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A local man got the gift of life from Facebook.
He needed a kidney transplant and put the word on social media.
“I was still embarrassed to put it on Facebook to say I needed to have a kidney, because I thought ‘who’s going to give me a kidney?'” asked Dennis McCarthy, the kidney recipient.
Those were Dennis McCarthy’s exact words in his October 2018 Facebook post.
After exhausting donor options, he took a leap of faith, but still wondering if others would think he felt more deserving than someone else.
“I couldn’t believe there was somebody actually on the other line,” he said.
That someone who answered the Facebook call for help was stranger Heidi Hamilton of Washington, PA, who became his living donor.
They are strangers no more.
“We’re like brother and sister,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton says she actually wanted to be a living donor long before she knew Dennis.
“I think God was talking to me and it weighed in my heart that it was time for me to do it,” she said.
The timing couldn’t have been better for Dennis who works with teens at a high school by day and at night for the last five years, he’d spend hours in dialysis.
Transplant surgeon Rachel Tindall says the transplant list can be 5-7 years and Dennis’s health was rapidly deteriorating.
“These patients are very sick and they could have a heart condition come up or they could have a stroke that could make them not eligible for a transplant,” said Dr. Tindall
Timing played a role and so did these very special people with a heart to help.
“He’ll stand by me, he always has,” Hamilton said of her husband Mike.
Turns out for the couple with four children and six grandchildren, giving the gift of life was just right.
“It just really makes me proud of her that she could give that much of herself to someone else because I know she’s given the world to me,” Mike said.
Like Dennis, Heidi also works at a school, the two say the lessons they have to share are like no other.
“It just shows you that there’s really good people out there,” McCarthy said. “People who really care and people who want to make difference in people’s lives.”