Facebook page leads to life-saving kidney donation

Jerry Wilde with Becky Melton, left, and Leah Hostalet, right
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Two strangers made a connection on social media to save a life. They are both recovering from surgery Monday, and they believe their connection was God's will.

Jerry Wilde's color is back, and after getting a new kidney last Friday, it looks like his two years on dialysis will become a thing of the past.

"I used to go to dialysis three nights a week from 10:00 at night until 4:00 in the morning," said Wilde, who is 49.

Wilde is an education professor at IU-East in Richmond. He says a former student accelerated his situation.

"She just felt like, 'I know there's a match for you,' and she said, 'What if I set up a Facebook page?'"

Leah Hostalet set up the "Find a Kidney for Jerry" Facebook page.

"It maybe took me twenty minutes," said Hostalet.

27-year-old Becky Melton, a stranger to both Hostalet and Wilde, found it right away.

"Just scrolling down my page and there it just popped on my homescreen, my news feed," said Melton.

"I started the page and posted it on November 18th and she actually saw it on November 18th and called to see if she could get tested," said Hostalet.

"A complete stranger says, 'Here's somebody I can help out and I want to donate a kidney to this man,'" said Wilde.

Three weeks later she sent a picture to Jerry.

"She made a drawing and one said, 'Jerry,' and underneath it she said, 'We are a match,'" said Wilde, tearing up. "So that is how out I found out."

Dr. William Goggins performed 156 kidney transplants at last year, 90 percent of the cases at IU Health.

"This is our first Facebook donation," said Dr. Goggins.

Dr. Goggins says 100,000 people are waiting for kidneys this year. 15,000 to 16,000 will get a transplant.

"In order to be successful and for people to find people to donate to there has to be a connection," said Dr. Goggins.

For Becky Melton, it was reading about Jerry on Facebook, and then reading his book about dialysis.

"I've been praying for purpose and I'm not ready for kids yet so I knew it wasn't that. I guess I was thinking more small scale but I guess when you open yourself up to God's plan it's going to be a lot bigger than you can imagine," said Melton. "I laughed and I cried and I think there will be a sequel."

As for Leah Hostalet, she started a new page called Kidney Central and a personal page for Jerry's 23-year-old friend Chad Terhaar, who he met at dialysis.

"My next mission is Chad. I really want to find a kidney for Chad now, so my focus now is on the Find a Kidney for Chad page hoping we can make it happen for him too," she said.

"Somehow this was all meant to be, in some strange and wonderful way," said Wilde.