Kidney recipient meets donor for first time: "She's giving me life"

A social media campaign to find a kidney could have life-saving results. In a desperate search to find a living donor, Linda Deming took matters into her own hands and put her request for a kidney on buttons, signs and social media. It caught the eye of a generous stranger, who volunteered to be her donor, and on Tuesday, she will undergo surgery at the Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Nine months ago, Deming was told the wait for a kidney transplant meant she would remain on dialysis for years, reports CBS News contributor Dana Jacobson.

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Linda Deming CBS News

For over a year, Deming has hated her morning routine. Three days a week, she gets up before dawn and drives 20 minutes to a dialysis center.

It's a four-hour process -- and it leaves her exhausted.

But on Monday, as she left the center one last time, the 63-year-old was overcome with relief.

Hours later, she met her donor for the first time.

Deming's search began in December 2014, when tests revealed her kidneys had stopped functioning.

"They crashed. They went real bad and we don't know why all of a sudden they changed so much, but they did. So that's when I had to sign up for dialysis," Deming recalled.

Doctors told Deming she needed a kidney transplant to survive.

"We asked our friends, we asked our families and we got six people to step forward to be tested. None of them tested well," Deming said.

Deming was put on a transplant list, but was determined to find a living donor on her own. She put up road signs, printed posters and made buttons, asking potential volunteers to get tested.

But it was a Facebook page called "A Kidney for Linda" that caught Amber McIntyre's attention.

"Scrolling through my newsfeed and this page popped up. To this day, I don't know why. I had no affiliation with it. Nobody I know had any affiliation with it," McIntyre explained.

Moved by Deming's story, the 37-year-old mother of four volunteered to qualify, keeping in touch with Deming throughout the process.

"Every time I called her, I was like, 'Oh hey, I passed the genetic screening,' 'Oh, hey the cross match went through," McIntyre said.

"I cried every time she called. I would jump up and down. I still don't know what words to say to her. I can say thank you, but that just doesn't cover it. She's giving me life," Deming said.

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Amber McIntyre (left) and Linda Deming (right) embrace after meeting for the first time CBS News

"Why did you want to do this?" Jacobson asked McIntyre.

"It literally boils down to the fact that it's the right thing to do," McIntyre said. "From the moment I knew I was a match, I knew that this would happen."

For Deming, it's a chance to experience life on her own terms.

"I'm just going to live my life," Deming said.

If all goes well, both women should be out of the hospital by the end of the week. They are determined to raise awareness for living donors, which right now account for a third of kidney transplants.

McIntyre gave Deming a gift Monday night -- a banana. One of the first things Deming said she wanted to do post surgery is eat a banana, something she hasn't been able to enjoy in years.