Social media brings potential kidney donor and recipient together

Kidney failure patient Curlethia Ghomes (left) photographed with her potential donor Michele Longford
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By Kadeem Joseph

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In the past two decades, the use of social media has mushroomed, with people now using these popular platforms for communication, advertising and forms of entertainment.

While most have heard of long-lost friends and family members reconnecting via these sites in stories that warm the heart, for these two women, the simple act of scrolling through social media has led to a connection that could potentially last a lifetime.

Michele Longford recounts to Observer that she was browsing Facebook when she saw a post about Curlethia Ghomes, who is in need of a kidney transplant, urging people who were interested in becoming donors to come forward to be tested.

She explained that, following an exchange of contact information, she was introduced to Dr Ian Thomas, nephologist at the Sir Lester Bird Mount St John’s Medical Centre, as the parties got to know each other.

“I would have gone to see him and of course we would have had these conversations to make sure I was really interested in doing this,” she said.

As time passed, following confirmation of Longford’s seriousness in donating one of her kidneys, she and Ghomes, once strangers, fast became friends.

For the past two and a half months, Longford has embarked on a journey punctuated by a battery of tests that will help to confirm if she is a suitable donor for Ghomes, who is 27 years old.

She further explained that there is still no date for the surgery.

“The surgery is done here yes, but it is done by doctors from Ohio. So, what happens is… there are a number of tests that you have to do. Once you’ve confirmed that all the tests are positive and the doctor here thinks you are a good candidate, he then compiles the information that is then sent to Ohio,” she said.

Longford added that officials in Ohio will also review the case details before making a determination. She said, further, there are other people in Antigua and Barbuda who require the services of the Ohio team, which could result in multiple surgeries being performed once their visit is confirmed.

“What I do to help move the process along is that once I am given tests I do not hesitate, I go and get them done,” she said. “Of course, these tests have to be funded so once the money is there, I go and get it done and we move on from there.”

While the parties continue the nail-biting journey towards full confirmation that Ghomes and her potential donor are good enough matches for the surgery to advance, with about 30 tests already done, Longford has joined fundraising efforts to help make the surgery possible. Estimated medical expenses are US$40,000 in total.

The 42-year-old said that there have been two fundraisers so far and she is encouraging others to patronise events to come in hopes of seeing this “miracle” through to the end.

Ghomes, who is a single mother, has said that her journey started in April 2011 when she was home sick for weeks, started losing weight and the colour of her skin began to grow pale.

“I went to the doctor and they run some tests and told me the worst news I could ever imagine; I was diagnosed of kidney failure,” she added in a past post. “I got an instant breakdown, emotional stressed which led to my depression.”

People wishing to join Ghomes’ 10-year battle in the hopes of a successful outcome can call 775-4615, 780-4303 or 785-1506 to learn more about how to assist.

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