Stanislav Sergeev/ShutterstockIn 2014, Kristi Callaway found out her husband’s kidneys were failing. If he didn’t find a donor, he could die.
On average, a person will wait three to five years for a kidney transplant, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Instead of waiting for the kidney registry to find a deceased donor kidney for her husband, Callaway took matters into her own hands.
She gathered her husband and two daughters for a family portrait, with her older daughter holding a sign that said “Our Daddy needs a Kidney!” Callaway created a Facebook page to share the photo, and the post went viral.
When a stranger more than 900 miles away saw the story about the Georgia family’s search on foxnews.com, he leapt into action. Tests revealed he was a match, and the Texas man successfully donated his kidney to Raleigh Callaway, just ten weeks after his wife called on social media for help.
Seeing how social media sped up the process for her husband, Kristi Callaway wondered if she could help the more than 100,000 other people in need of a kidney. She decided to use her Facebook page, “Our Daddy Needs a Kidney- Team Callaway,” to help others on the national transplant waiting list.
“I just knew there were so many people following our page that were willing to help us,” Callaway told Fox 5 Atlanta. “Why not give them the opportunity to help others?”
Other families and individuals can now post their own kidney needs on the page. The photos contain the people’s names, blood types, ages, and contact information, and the descriptions give them a chance to tell their story. So far, Callaway’s page has saved at least 23 lives by connecting donors to those in need.
“We didn’t know it was going to do what it’s done,” Raleigh Callaway told ABC News, which featured his wife on Good Morning America’s “We Are GMA” campaign. “It just touches my heart.”
One of the donors to turn up through Kristi Callaway’s efforts? Her mom, Kathryn Sorrells. She’d been tested to find out if she could give her kidney to her son-in-law or another Georgia man, but neither was a match. Then Debra Phillips, who’d been on kidney dialysis for almost two years after both her organs shut down, submitted her story to the Facebook page. Tests confirmed the women were a match, and Sorrells donated her kidney to Phillips.
The Callaways encourage even more people to donate healthy kidneys. “If anyone out there can help someone else, help change someone’s life, I just hope and pray that they will,” Raleigh Callaway told Fox5.
Visit the National Kidney Foundation to learn more about organ donations.