Kirti Dwivedi is a self-professed social media junkie who loves mixing it up with her friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. But recently the young Phoenix, Ariz., woman learned the power of the networks could also save the life of someone she holds most dear.
Dwivedi had watched helplessly as her mother, Anu, continued a downward spiral brought on by a kidney disease diagnosis nearly 10 years ago. By last October, Anu’s kidney function had dropped to 20 percent. Finding a kidney donor could take years, if indeed one was ever found.
In January, Kirti turned to social media for solutions to her mother’s plight.
“It’s hard to see someone who is so active and so caring not be able to get out of bed,” Dwivedi told national correspondent Jenna Wolfe in a report that aired on TODAY Friday. “I was like, ‘I’m not a doctor.’ There is very little I felt like I can do, but if I start a Facebook page, maybe we can find a live donor.”
A shot in the dark
So Kirti started a Facebook page she called “Kidney Disease & My Tiny Mother,” even though she regarded it as little more than a shot in the dark. “I never thought that we would be able to find somebody that would be willing to be a donor, let alone a match,” she said.
But that was before she heard from Amy Donohue, who proved to be not only a willing donor, but a viable match for Kirti’s mom. Donohue had seen Dwivedi’s Facebook page, and then chatted with Kirti about her mother’s plight via tweets. Soon, Donohue sent Dwivedi an email volunteering to be a donor for Anu.
Why? Because, Donohue told TODAY’s Wolfe, she had a very personal motive for stepping up to help a woman whose daughter she only knew online.
“The main reason that I really forged ahead was that my father died of cancer about eight years ago,” Donohue said. “[Anu] could get a kidney and feel better and prolong her life, give her a better quality of life. There was nothing I could do for my father.”
Anu hadn’t realized her daughter had been pleading for a donor via social media. “I did not know she was crying and crying for help,” she told Wolfe. “She’s a very strong girl and very understanding … with lots of love. I love her so much.”
Donohue went through a battery of tests this spring, tests that showed she would indeed be a good match to donate a kidney to Dwivedi. The transplant surgery took place in mid-April, and by all reports was successful.
While one of Donohue’s kidneys now does its work inside Anu, their hearts are also matched — Donohue is a frequent dinner guest and is now considered part of the family.
“I think Amy knows what I feel for her in my heart, and I’m grateful for that,” Kirti told Wolfe. “She’s saving my mother’s life. I don’t think ‘thank you’ really covers it.”
Anu Dwivedi added to KSAZ-TV in Phoenix, “I don’t think a word has been created to thank somebody for a gift like that!”