A New Jersey man is crediting God, Facebook, and answered prayer for helping him find a matching kidney donor, from a stranger who lived more than 1,700 miles away.
In June, Roy McIntosh, 48, underwent a kidney transplant at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, thanks to a woman from Texas who took the opportunity to help someone she did not know.
It was a simple prayer put on Facebook that led Heather Schafer to Roy.
In December 2021, Roy's wife, Toshira Maldonado-McIntosh, posted a message to the Facebook group "The Laughing Christian" asking for prayer for her husband.
"Please pray for my husband that God sends a type B+ living kidney donor to him," read the post. "We believe in God for a miracle. Please pray for him."
Toshira did not personally know any of the group's members but said she had faith in the power of prayer.
She had no way of knowing that more than 1,700 miles away, in Harker Heights, Texas, a military wife would see the post and – almost instantly – make a decision that would change both of their lives.
"I read the message and thought, 'That's for me,'" Heather said. "Somehow I just knew I had a part to play. So, I messaged the lady about 30 minutes later and wrote, 'I am B+ [blood type] and I'd like to look into if I can donate my kidney.'"
Toshira admits that she did have reservations, but she gave Heather the contact information to the living-donor coordinator and held on to the hope that God answers prayer.
"What are the odds that a Caribbean man in New Jersey and a woman from Scotland living in Texas would even find one another, let alone be compatible?" she asked.
But after several months and many tests, results showed they were a perfect match.
Heather chronicled her journey on YouTube, in a video series called "Adventures with My Kidney."
"Making the videos helped me organize my own thoughts and explain the process to my loved ones. I also hoped sharing my story would remove some of the mystery and help other people consider becoming an organ donor too," Heather said.
"The greatest thing about organ transplant is that it provides a better rate of survival and dramatically allows recipients to lead more normal lives," Dr. John Radomski, transplant surgeon at Virtua Advanced Transplant & Organ Health, said.
"Dialysis, specifically, requires a restrictive lifestyle and can be quite taxing," he continued. "When on dialysis, you are essentially asking a machine to do in a few hours what the kidneys would normally do over the course of a few days. It takes a lot out of someone."
For Roy, dialysis was three days a week, five hours a day. Now he is delighted to no longer require the treatment.
"I feel 20 years younger!" he said.
Roy believes it was God's plan to match them.
Exactly eight weeks after the successful surgery, Roy, his wife, and four of their five children met Heather and her two children in person for the first time.
The tearful, joyous gathering on Roy's front lawn cemented a bond that both parties are certain will last a lifetime.
"We love Heather and we are forever grateful," Roy said.
Heather summed-up their story this way: "Perfect stranger, perfect match, perfect God."