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2 strangers, 1 kidney, and a mission to get others to become living donors

Melanie Taylor and Jennifer Bowman were merely acquaintances living in the same town when Taylor posted on Facebook that she was in need of a kidney transplant.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — “Do you mind if I give away a body part?" Jennifer Bowman said to her husband one day. 

"He goes no I don’t care. Wait a minute, which one? Wait a minute. Who are you giving what to?!” Bowman said.

Bowman recalls the day she found out she was a match for an acquaintance of hers who needed a kidney. She never told her husband she signed up to be a living donor.

April 7 is Living Donor Day, bringing awareness to the way you can save the life of someone you love or maybe even a stranger like Bowman did.

The plea for a kidney began on Facebook.

Melanie Taylor needed a kidney, and she didn’t want to wait for the transplant list to get to her. That could take years.

She posted online a cry for help. Her cry was answered.

“I just took the bull by the horns and put it out there," Taylor said. 

A post on Facebook doesn’t seem like much when your life is on the line.

“I actually was born with polycystic kidney disease, so I’ve known for a long time that that was a possibility, but at the same time I hoped to prolong it as much as possible," Taylor said. 

She said several of her other family members have had a kidney transplant in the past. Now it was her turn, but she needed a match.

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It was 2019 when Taylor's kidneys began to fail. That's when Bowman’s husband showed her the post.

“I had met Melanie on a couple of occasions, but we didn’t really know each other," Bowman said. "We read the post and talked about it a little, but I never even told my husband that I filled the paperwork out.

It’s as easy as that. Put in your information with the hospital -- hers was Mayo Clinic -- and wait. Bowman was a match.

“Now we’re family," Taylor said.  

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Credit: Melanie Taylor

On May 1, 2020, Bowman gave Taylor her kidney. No hesitation.

“It really is a very easy process. I would say giving birth was more of a process than doing this," said Bowman. 

Kidney and liver transplants can all be done via a living donor. Most of the sign ups are online through hospitals. 

You can learn how to sign up to be a living donor at Mayo Clinic here.

Bowman and Taylor share posts often of people searching for a living donor hoping someone as generous as Bowman is on the other side of the screen.