Facebook, and a little luck, brings two strangers together for a kidney transplant


Kidney transplant patient Stewart Botsford (grey shirt, hat) meets his donor, Justin Maduena (red shirt) for the first time on August 11, 2016

When Stewart Botsford and Justin Maduena greeted each other at the University of Chicago Medicine on August, 11, 2016, they were already bound together. Justin, from downstate Dawson, Ill. near Springfield, would soon be donating a kidney to Botsford, from suburban Arlington Heights. But the two were meeting each other in person for the first time.

Botsford was placed on the waiting list for a kidney transplant last year, after he was diagnosed with renal failure. His family began advertising for a potential donor, placing window decals on their cars that said “My husband needs a kidney” for his wife, Laura, and “My dad needs a kidney” for their daughter. Someone took a picture of one the cars, posted it on Facebook, and through the random series of acquaintances now made possible by social media, Justin’s wife Melinda saw it. She sent it to him, and he immediately called Stewart to see if he could help.


Kidney transplant patient Stewart Botsford (in bed) and his donor, Justin Maduena, visit with each other on August 18, 2016, in Mitchell Hospital after their surgeries two days earlier.

The transplant took place on August 16, and the two men are now back home recovering separately. But chances are they won’t be out of touch very long. Laura Botsford, a baker by trade, is planning to send Maduena a continuous stream of food and gifts, and promised to bake the cake when any of his children get married.

“There aren’t enough words to thank him,” she said. “He’s our angel walking on earth.”

Stewart and Justin’s story generated quite a bit of media interest both before and after the surgery. Here’s a roundup of some of the coverage:


About Matt Wood (531 Articles)
Matt Wood is a senior science writer and manager of communications at the University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences Division.
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