It’s being dubbed the “Craigslist kidney.”
In yet another remarkable showing of how social media is helping save lives, Cindy Chichick-Prettyman, of Glen Dale, West Virginia, has found a new lease on life, all thanks to the kindness of a stranger from the classified advertisements website.
When Chichick-Prettyman’s son, Jeremy, found out the minimum wait time was a whopping five years before his mother would even be considered for a kidney transplant, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Unbeknownst to her, he had posted an ad on Craigslist in February that simply read “Wanted: Kidney,” with a brief description stating that a woman who had “never drank” and “never smoked” was searching for a kidney donor.
The very same night, Jacklyn Mellott, a house-flipper from Union Port, Ohio, came across the posting and says she knew it had to be a sign.
“I always knew I’d be more than happy to donate a kidney if I only knew how to go about it,” Mellott, 56, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “When I saw that on there, I knew that was a sign and I had to do it.”
Mellott, who is always on Craigslist either getting rid of or obtaining extra items she can use for her home renovations, didn’t waste any time before calling the number listed on the ad to inquire about how she can volunteer to donate.
“I called him and I start telling him I wanted to help, and he was thrilled and couldn’t believe it,” she recalled.
At that point, however, Chichick-Prettyman wasn’t even aware her son had posted this ad, let alone that someone had actually responded. When Jeremy told her the next day, she was not only shocked, but a bit skeptical of this total stranger willing to help save her life.
“I thought she was crazy,” said Prettyman, 65. “She didn’t know her blood type, she really didn’t know anything except that she wanted to donate. And then of course I still needed to go through all my testing to make sure I was healthy enough to be a recipient. But by the time all that happened, she had already gone to the Internet to read everything she could about donation.”
Mellott was determined to help and did her research to ensure they’d be a match.
“I said, ‘I’m willing to try to give you my kidney if everything would work out,’” Mellott recalled of their initial conversation. “I said, ‘I’m healthy, 55 years old, I do everything holistic and I knew years ago I wanted to do this, so let’s just see where this goes.”
The two women put their trust in each other’s hands, and sure enough, “One out of 100,000,” Mellott explained, “we matched.”
On April 1, Mellott called Chichick-Prettyman elated that she was indeed a match.
“That’s when I think it sunk in that she really was real,” Chichick-Prettyman said. “A week or so before that, she came down to the dialysis center to prove she was real and she was going to do this. Until then I was really skeptical on the phone. But it’s been progressing now and she went for a test yesterday and gets a stress test on Thursday and the board will meet on Monday to determine if we can go.”
Once the board approves the surgery for the two women, they can move forward with the transplant surgery as quickly as they want.
“My life is consumed now with dialysis and it’s just hard,” said Chichick-Prettyman. “But now, I call her my ‘Craigslist kidney.’”
And as if Chichick-Prettyman isn’t already elated to be receiving the donation, Mellott may just outweigh her excitement knowing she’s actually able to help.
“I feel fantastic. You can’t even imagine,” said Mellott. “Words can’t express it. You’re never going to know this feeling unless you do it. You just need to donate, then you’ll understand.”