New mom in need of kidney transplant finds donor on Facebook in 4 days

By James T. Mulder
Published on May 7, 2016

Syracuse, N.Y. – A new mom from LaFayette who needed a kidney transplant went on Facebook to seek a donor and found one in four days.

The Jan. 14 post on Victoria Fitzpatrick’s Facebook page had a photo of Fitzpatrick and her baby, Carter, who was born Nov. 4, with this message:

“Hi! My name is Carter. This is my mommy, Victoria, holding me. She’s pretty and smells nice. She doesn’t feel so good though. Dad says she needs a new kid knee because hers are broken and we need someone to give her a new one.”
Janet Burton, Fitzpatrick’s mother, came up with the idea for the Facebook post, which was shared more than 6,000 times. Fitzpatrick’s Facebook message box quickly filled up with about 80 messages from potential donors as far away as Ohio and Georgia.

Jody Adams, 40, a mother of six from Steuben County, was one of them. She read the post one night while lying in bed. “I just knew I was her person,” Adams said. “All I could think of was that little baby.”

Victoria Fitzpatrick, left, with her baby, Carter, and kidney donor Jody Adams of Steuben County. (James T. Mulder)

Adams called the phone number for Upstate Medical University’s transplant center listed in the Facebook post. She went in for testing, discovered she was a match and decided to donate her kidney to Fitzpatrick, a total stranger.

Upstate doctors removed a kidney from Adams Tuesday and successfully transplanted it into Fitzpatrick.

The two women met for the first time today and were holding hands within 20 minutes.

“You can never imagine some random person doing this for you,” Fitzpatrick said.

Adams said she feels like she is Fitzpatrick’s older sister. “If it had not been for Facebook, we would not be sitting here sharing an organ,” Adams said.

Living donors are relatively rare. Twelve people die in the U.S. each day awaiting a kidney transplant, according to the National Kidney Foundation. The demand for kidney transplants has grown because of the nation’s epidemic of diabetes, the most common cause of kidney failure.

Fitzpatrick, 30, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 10. As a result of diabetes, she developed kidney disease and was on dialysis. Fitzpatrick discovered she was four months pregnant when she went to Upstate last year to be evaluated for a kidney transplant.

It’s very rare for a woman with Type 1 diabetes on dialysis to have a successful pregnancy, according to Dr. Vikram Aggarwal, an Upstate kidney specialist. After consulting with experts, he put Fitzpatrick on dialysis six hours a day for six days a week until the baby was born. The normal dialysis treatment is four hours a day three days a week. Even with the extra dialysis, her chance of having a successful pregnancy was 50 percent, he said.

Carter was born prematurely at Crouse Hospital at 31 weeks, weighing in at 3 pounds, 14 ounces. He’s now healthy and weighs 14 pounds.

Fifty people who responded to the Facebook post came to Upstate for testing and about 15 percent were identified as potential donors. Upstate doctors say a few of them may donate kidneys to other strangers in need.

The outpouring of support triggered by Facebook has changed Fitzpatrick’s outlook on life.

“I didn’t have that much faith in the world,” she said. “This changed my mind completely.”

Contact James T. Mulder 315.470.2245

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