The Ultimate Gift Found Online

This past February, Paul Wagner did an extraordinary thing. In an act of selflessness, he gave away his left kidney to a perfect stranger.

"I wanted to do something nice for somebody," Wagner tells CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

That somebody is Gail Tomas Willis, a 70-year-old former opera singer, mother of two, and part-time music teacher, who is now growing healthier thanks to Wagner's kidney.

In addition to Wagner's generous donation, the fact that Willis listed a picture and small profile on an organ donor Web site helped her cause.

Matching Donors, is where Wagner and Willis, donor and recipient, found each other. It's one of a handful of new sites that try to match living organ donors willing to help patients in need of transplants.

Potential donors come to these sites and sort through page after page, appeal after appeal. When Wagner scrolled through these pleas, he stopped at "desperately need your help to live." It was posted by Willis.

"Who could not read that story – 'Desperately need your help to live?' This was a real human being who had a family and whose family wanted to keep their mother. And I just couldn't turn my back on that," Wagner admits.

Organ donations, usually from relatives, and organ transplants generally, are now commonplace in America.

"Transplantation works. It's successful. It's no longer an experiment. It's the absolute best medical therapy," Frank DelMonico, president of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), says.

Frank DelMonico is also a transplant surgeon. UNOS arranges transplants using a system based on donors who are deceased.

When a willing donor dies, UNOS distributes the organs, the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, even the intestines to the sickest patients ranked on an organ by organ list.

Last year, there were more donors than ever, but far from enough. While there were 28,000 transplants, the number of patients needing them exceeded 90,000. It's a number that's growing by the day.

Roughly 8,000 people die each year because they did not receive an organ transplant in time, reports Andrews. The wait for a kidney, is between 1-6 years.
  • Sean Alfano

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