Woman turns to Facebook to help save her father's life with a kidney transplant

Posted at 6:45 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-06 20:43:32-04

Organ donation - likely two words you rarely think about, unless you're looking at your license, are registered as a living donor or know someone who recently had a transplant.

Right now, as it stands, close to a 120,000 men, women and children are waiting for a donor. Of them, more than 80% are waiting for a kidney.

The average wait time for someone on the national donor registry is anywhere from 3 to 5 years. That's according to the folks

When Jeff Charters of Bay City was told his kidney's were failing he didn't have much time.

"It was July 2011," Jeff said. "It was when I first got out of my truck on a project I was on and stumbled and fell right over."

July 2011 would be the start of what would become what seemed like a never ending rollercoaster ride for him and his family. As a construction engineer, his health was everything.

"I went to see an ear doctor and they thought it was inner ear problems." Jeff said. But it wasn't.

Doctors ordered more tests. "I couldn't even walk a straight line. I was just stumbling all over the place," he said.

Doctors performed an MRI on Jeff's brain. "That's when they found all the lesions," Jeff says.

His kidney's weren't performing like healthy kidney's do.

Fast forward a few years. July 2011 meets July 2014.

Jeff was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure. On top of that his heart was failing too.

His daughter Kim would watch as her father's health declined.

If doctor's performed the open heart surgery, Jeff's kidney's were more likely to fail.

Kim was on the hunt for a donor and, in the process, she turned to social media. Embracing Facebook and its audience to not only raise awareness about her father's condition, but also the need for organ donors.

Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine within hours of posting the news about her father and his need for a kidney, a real life angel would come forward.

Rachael Milks is 21. She's a nursing student and when she saw her former classmate's dad needed a kidney, she didn't think twice.

"Putting myself in someone else's shoes helps you to be more compassionate," Rachael said. "Helps you to do things, I guess, that you normally wouldn't feel comfortable doing."

I talked with her on Skype, just another form of social media moving our society along and allowing us to keep in touch.

When she thought about the process she told me, "It would only be a short time where I would feel kind of down and then I know I would heal and get better." B

ut it's Jeff she was thinking about. A man she had never met, despite having gone to school for years with his daughter Kim who made the post.

"He's been sick for a long time and he would continue to be sick until he got a new kidney, so it was worth it for me," Rachael said.

Jeff's medical team and those that work with transplant patients don't support the use of social media for the sake of finding a donor.

They say it's best when used to raise awareness about the great need for living donors.

In Jeff's case though, his surgeon says it's surreal.

You can find out more about transplants at the following links: