By Eric Schwartzberg Dayton Daily News
WARREN COUNTY, Ohio — Five years ago, Phyllis Frederick’s chances of finding a match for a kidney transplant would have been reduced.
That’s because five years ago, Facebook, the popular online social network, did not exist. Thanks to a posting on her daughter’s Facebook page, Frederick quickly found a donor and recently received a kidney transplant.
Frederick has been under medical care for her kidneys since 1998. In June 2007, her doctor told her treatments were no longer working and that dialysis would be necessary. Later, she was told she would have to be put on waiting lists for a new kidney and should work to get people to donate for her.
After two years and several unsuccessful attempts at lining up a donor via friends and family, Frederick, 71, said a prayer before going to the doctor’s office late last year for a yearly assessment.
“I said ‘OK, God, I just have to know if I’m getting too old,’ ” she said. “ ‘If I’m getting too old, I’m OK with dialysis. It’s my lifeline.’ ”
Frederick asked her doctor if age would be an issue and her doctor told her he had just performed a kidney transplant on an 82-year-old patient.
“He said ‘We’ll talk about your age five years from now,’ ” Frederick said. “I left there thinking, ‘Oh good! Now I have five years to find a donor.’ ”
Wondering how she would get the message out, Frederick’s daughter Carrie posted a request on her Facebook page: “My mom’s Type O. She needs a kidney. Can anybody help?”
Twenty minutes later, a Warren County resident said she could.
Kirsten Montgomery had recently reconnected with Frederick’s daughter, her best friend from their high school days, after being out of contact for many years.
The 34-year-old Deerfield Twp. mother of two, whose brother’s life had been saved because of bone marrow transplants, said the decision was a simple one.
“I saw that and thought ‘Wow. She’s Type O negative, I’m Type O negative.’ We’re technically a match in those terms and called my husband Mike and said something about it. His response was, ‘If we can help somebody, we should,’ and I said ‘That’s all the permission I need.’ ”
Driving home from the doctor’s office that day, Frederick pulled her car over to the side of the road before taking the call that would change her life.
“(My daughter) said, Kirsten answered the plea that I posted on Facebook and you’ve got a kidney,” Frederick said.
When a stunned Frederick questioned why she would do such a kindness for her, her daughter said Montgomery remembered Frederick’s kindness during visits to her home almost two decades ago.
“My daughter and Kirsten’s birthday is a day apart... and I made them each a birthday cake and apparently Kirsten remembered that,” Frederick said.
Recalling Montgomery’s kindness, Frederick’s voice filled with emotion and her eyes welled up with tears.
“I just was saying, ‘Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord’ and crying practically all the way home,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe prayers could be answered like that in such a short period of time.”
Montgomery said she probably would have donated the kidney even without her family members’ medical difficulties, but being able to empathize helped.
“I think having seen the struggles my brother went through it made it was much easier for me to want to help eliminate those for someone else,” she said.
During the Feb. 9 surgery, doctors easily removed Montgomery’s kidney and placed it inside Frederick’s body, where it went to work immediately. “They were awfully impressed they were working so well,” Frederick said.
Following the surgery, Frederick has found her energy rebounding and her blood pressure lower than it has been in decades.
Frederick, who volunteers twice a week as a Eucharistic minister at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, expresses gratitude almost daily to Montgomery via phone calls and e-mails.
Montgomery does not want Frederick to feel indebted.
“I just want her to be able to go out and do the good things she does for the community, be with her grandkids and continue our relationship as well, because she’s such a neat person,” Montgomery said. “I enjoy spending time with her because her spirit and her energy are just contagious.”
Both women are telling their story to encourage others who may consider donating an organ.
Frederick offers those who are waiting for a transplant of any kind a simple message: “Have faith, don’t give up hope and try to be an optimist.”
Montgomery urges people not to hold back when considering performing an act of kindness of any size.
“Those little things that may affect us for an hour or a couple of days or, in the case of donating a kidney, a couple of weeks, can have a lifelong effect on other people,” she said. “I don’t think we realize how much of an impact we can have on other people if we all stop to think about it.
“I would love for people to see what an influence they can have just in the small, everyday actions.”
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