Desperate Facebook post leads to kidney donation from stranger

Woman with kidney disease says donor saved her life

EUSTIS, Fla. – Vicki Pentecost sat in her living room looking at her phone. She shook her head.

"Wow, that still gets me every time," she said, taking a deep breath.

She was looking at a Facebook post she made more than a year ago. Reading the words, she still couldn't believe the odds that her desperate plea for a kidney on social media would be answered. 

"Only one person came forward and took the test," she said. "They were a perfect match. Odd, no, that was God."

She's talking about Art Fales, this week's Getting Results Award winner. The two had never met but their online social circles overlapped long enough to change both of their lives. Now she calls him her angel.

"I almost died. I shouldn't be here today," Pentecost said. "So to be able to have my life back is just a gift. All because of Art." 

Pentecost was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2016. Before she knew it, she was doing dialysis three times a week. 

"I couldn't imagine living my life on a machine," Pentecost said, reflecting on her options at that time.

No one in her family was an option for a transplant.

"And so I thought, 'Well, I'll put my name on the kidney transplant list,'" she said.  

That's when someone suggested she make a post on Facebook.

"I said, 'I don't know.' I thought about it for a while," Pentecost said.

A friend of Pentecost's oldest daughter saw the message and asked her husband, Fales, if he could help. 

"I said, 'If we're a match, I don't have a problem.' It was an easy decision," Fales remembered saying. 

The successful operation took place in December at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

Pentecost hopes her story will encourage others to consider organ donation.

For more information on organ donation please visit the TransLife website. TransLife is the federally-designated organ procurement organization for 10 counties in East Central Florida. 

Pentecost and Fales now consider themselves family. The two and their families meet regularly.

"I'm a giving person. I like to think of others before myself," Fales said. "Anytime somebody needs help, if I can, I'll be there."

About the Author: