Social media has often been lambasted as being too much media and not enough social. And the way society is changing and how deeply integrated technology has become in our lives can, in many ways, give that impression—that people, buried in their phones or on their computers, are just not talking to one another anymore.
Yet, social media can have an incredible impact on a person’s life and can connect people in some unorthodox ways—as one mother found out to her great relief.
At a few months old, Kennedy Stevenson started showing signs of a life-threatening, rare disorder.
When she was 3 years old, Kennedy Stevenson from eastern Pennsylvania was finally diagnosed with an extremely rare metabolic disorder. The disease stunted her development, but, more serious than that, threatened her life. Only eight other people in the world have been diagnosed with the disease that effects the liver.
Normal treatments for this disease, however, could not save her, and so, doctor’s at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh turned to a revolutionary liver transplant. This procedure did not require an entire liver, only a piece from a matching donor.
“Without a transplant, her prognosis would have been almost certain neurologic disability and death,” Dr. George Mazariegos, a transplant surgeon, told CBS Pittsburgh.
There was a problem that only social media had an answer to.
But there was one major problem: due to the nature of the disorder, Kennedy could not receive a liver from any member of her family. So, her mother, Donya McCoy, turned to more unorthodox means of eliciting help: a desperate plea on social media.
“Facebook was my largest network of unrelated people,” McCoy told CBS Pittsburgh. “So I put a plea out there, and in it, I put ‘I can’t believe I’m asking for this, but as a mom I have to.’”
In July 2014, McCoy posted the following message to her Facebook page, according to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh:
Of course, asking for a piece of a liver on Facebook was not exactly what the platform was designed for. Thankfully, though, someone stepped up to help her.
An old high-school classmate Mike Thompson stepped up and offered a part of his liver to save Kennedy’s life.
Her savior was Mike Thompson, a firefighter from a different part of the state, who had gone to high school with McCoy. He offered 25 percent of his liver to Kennedy and three years after the successful transplant operation, the little girl’s life has been saved.
More than that, though, Thompson and Kennedy have formed a special bond with one another. He often goes to her birthday parties, or just hangs out with her.
Kennedy is, according to her doctors, doing great, and her mother is deeply grateful that Thompson was there to help out.
“We have been so incredibly blessed that someone like Mike did such a selfless thing to save her life,” McCoy said. “I feel like I’ve been witness to a miracle.”
Kennedy has a bright future ahead of her, but she might be a bit too eager to try out her new liver.
Kennedy for her part is also grateful to “Uncle Mike,” as she calls him, for his selfless generosity.
“Thanks for helping me with my liver,” Kennedy told CBS Pittsburgh.
But she might be a little too eager to test out her new liver’s capabilities.
“I want to drink beer!” Kennedy said, laughing, according to CBS Pittsburgh.