BAY CITY, Mich. -- More than 120,000 Americans are currently on a list hoping to get an organ they desperately need to live. When a man's life was on the line, his daughter stepped up to save him. Her plea for a kidney donor took off on social media and incredibly they found a willing match.
When a man's life was on the line his daughter stepped up to save him. Her plea for a kidney donor took off on social media and incredibly they found a willing match.
Jeff Charters knew his kidneys were failing and he knew he needed a transplant, but he had no idea just how quickly it would happen.
After months of dialysis for four hours a day, three days a week, his family went with him as they learned about the agonizing process of getting a donor. It is often a three to five-year wait.
His daughter Kim Charters wasn't going to allow that.
"I was just sitting there and in the back of my mind I was thinking, 'yeah, this wait list thing, that's not happening.' I can find something. I can do something," she said.
So she turned to Facebook. On April 7, Kim started "Find Jeff Charters a Kidney." The Bay City John Glenn graduate reached out to everyone she knew to get the word out.
"I probably had 20 or 30 people actually messaging me and asking me how to go about the process and how to get tested," Kim Charters said.
Out of those people, they just needed one. Little did they know the one had messaged Kim the day she started the social media campaign.
What happened next Jeff Charters can only describe as a miracle. His wish was granted in an airport.
"Me and my wife just hugged and we were crying," he said.
Rachael Milks, a classmate of Kim's, offered to get tested.
"The thought didn't really scare me cause I was like this is such a cool thing and I think if I were in the same position I'd want someone to reach out and you know, do the same for my dad," Milks said.
A few weeks later as Kim was backpacking in Hawaii she received a message from Milks.
"She was like, 'you know, hope you're having fun in Hawaii. Hope you're enjoying your vacation.' And she was like, 'um, they just called me and I'm a match for your dad.' And I was kind of thrown back by it and it was intense, overwhelming for sure," Kim Charters said.
She didn't want to tell her dad over the phone so she grabbed a postcard and penned a poem. Two days later she flew home to deliver the news at the Detroit airport.
On Aug. 10 at Henry Ford Hospital,Milks gave Jeff Charters her kidney.
"It's a significant change in his life. This donor has helped him tremendously," said Dr. Jason Denny, a transplant surgeon at Henry Ford Hospital.
Denny said this gift will allow Jeff Charters to make plans for the future.
"You generally live a longer life than people who stay on dialysis," Denny said.
Milks went home a day and a half after the surgery feeling great.
"It really wasn't as bad as what people initially think it's going to be," she said.
As for Jeff Charters, he can't express his gratitude enough.
"I'd give her the whole world if I could. There isn't enough thank yous and hugs in the world for Rachael," he said.
Thanks to Milks, Jeff Charters will be able to do exactly what every parent dreams of.
"I got a grandson in Ohio that I'm looking forward to seeing him again, spending time with my family and just enjoying life," he said.