People can get cars, boats, jobs, pets and even dates on Craigslist. So why not a kidney?
More and more patients across the U.S., many facing a life-or-death wait for a suitable organ, are turning to Internet sites like Craigslist to find a kidney donor.
And some are finding them. Their ingenuity has saved lives, and cut waiting times by years -- possibly a decade or more for some.
It's not hard to see why some families are willing to take this route. Last year, 4,505 people died on traditional lists waiting for a kidney, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
But some families who talked to ABC News say once they find a kidney outside of the traditional organ-donor waiting list system, they have faced hospitals that are suspicious or unprepared to deal with the legal and ethical questions of harvesting an organ from a living person located through personal ads.
Only 10 percent of transplant centers will consider doing a kidney transplant from an altruistic live donor who is not related or known by the patient.
And only 20-30 percent of transplant centers are willing to perform a so-called "kidney swap" between two families at the hospital who can't find a blood-type match for their loved ones among their own family, but are well-matched across families.
These barriers would not deter Brian Golbad, a 25-year-old from Los Angeles, from his New Year's resolution to find his dad a kidney. It was a promise that would lead him to search for a donor on the Internet.
"We can't wait for the city, or the state or the government to do it," Golbad told ABCNews.com. "We're going to have to do it ourselves now."
Golbad said he was shocked to learn that his father, Ali Golbad, had kidney failure two years ago. For months their family doctor said his father's swollen feet were the result of old age.
"By the time I found out, I lost 63 percent of my kidneys," Ali Golbad told ABC News.
Then the Golbads heard the really bad news: no one in the family was a suitable donor for Ali.
So Ali's name was placed on an organ donor wait list. "We have signed up on the waiting list, and it takes about seven years, minimum," Brian Golbad said he was told.
Fortunately, the Golbad family says, Ali was a patient at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, one of the few hospitals willing to perform a kidney transplant with an altruistic stranger's kidney.
So with his father's health deteriorating, Brian Golbad placed an ad on Craigslist after the holidays that read:
"Please help us Save My Dad! Ask your Friends, Family members and Co-workers if they can donate a kidney.
My dad has kidney failure and needs a kidney donor. Please call or e-mail me if you or someone you know could help save his life.
Thank you & God Bless"
After the listing was posted, the Golbads quickly ran into the types of challenges that deter the majority of hospitals from accepting altruistic stranger donations.
"We realized that lots of people are trying to make fast cash off of that," said Ali. "They know we are desperate and if we do not get a kidney we'll die."