US Mayor Donates Kidney to Facebook Friend
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23 April 2010
Politicians long ago discovered the uses of Facebook. East Haven Mayor April Capone Almon found something else there: a constituent who needed her kidney.
Capone Almon, 35, had more than 1,600 “friends’on Facebook last year when she saw one of them, Carlos Sanchez, post a status update saying his friends and relatives had all been tested and couldn”t donate a kidney.
She knew him casually through activities and friends in the New Haven suburb of East Haven, but they weren’t so close that she had heard he was ill.
Sanchez, a 44–year–old father whose kidneys were failing because of diabetes, sent out the request on Facebook only hesitantly and on his doctor’s suggestion. He worried people might pity him–and certainly hadn’t pinned his hopes on finding a donor that way. He didn’t have long to wait. Capone Almon was the first person to respond.
“I sent him a private message and just said, “Hey, I’ll try. I’ll get tested, Capone Almon said on Wednesday. “I really felt from the very beginning that I was going to be a match and a donor. I don’t know why, but I just knew it.”
Sanchez had no such certainty. “I wasn’t putting too much faith in it,”he said. “I didn’t want to get my hopes high. But at a point she made me feel so comfortable that I started feeling maybe this was meant to be.”
Capone Almon, a Democrat, was running for a second term as mayor at the time but kept the details of her medical plans a secret. She won the election as they awaited word on when she could donate the kidney, saying they grew as close as family during the lull.
“I know he voted for me, too,”she joked. The operation was set only after Capone Almon passed a battery of tests and was given a long explanation of the process, which involved three small incisions near her ribcage and a scar similar to that of a cesarean section.
“What the doctors said to me is, ‘Your recipient is already sick and we’re not going to make you sick to make him somewhat better,”she said. Their tenuous connection was cemented into a lasting bond April 8, when doctors at Yale–New Haven Hospital removed Capone Almon’s left kidney and transplanted it into Sanchez.
They were released from the hospital in less than a week and are expected to make full recoveries. His insurance paid for both their surgeries, and the mayor is back on the job in this middleclass city of about 30,000. AP
Web of Friendship
April Capone Almon, the mayor of a small Connecticut town, donated her kidney this month to Carlos Sanchez, a man she barely knew, after he sent out a request on Facebook
Almon said she had a gut feeling their kidneys would match and secretly underwent tests while she was running for a second term as mayor
Although doctors initially dissuaded her, the transplant was successfully conducted