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Facebook friend gets mayor's kidney

April Capone Almon, mayor of East Haven, Ct., donates her kidney to one of her Facebook friends. The lucky recipient is not a close friend, but her kidney happened to be a match.

April Capone Almon
April Capone Almon

While Mark Zuckerberg this week focused on finding ways that people could use Facebook to share every article of journalism and, who knows, maybe even clothing with their Facebook friends, a mayor in New England used the site to share much more.

April Capone Almon, mayor of East Haven, Ct., seems to be a woman who truly dedicates herself to her constituents, and, indeed, to her Facebook friends. And when I say "herself," I really mean "her self."

Almon has more than 1,600 Facebook friends, but as she waded through her friends' status updates, she discovered that one of them needed something quite urgently: a kidney.

According to the Associated Press, Mayor Almon didn't know Carlos Sanchez well. She hadn't been aware that he was ill, nor that his diabetes had caused the need for a new kidney.

So, in this new world of everything being public, you might imagine that Mayor Almon, seeing a few votes wafting in the wind, put a message on Sanchez's wall. Ah, no.

"I sent him a private message and just said, 'Hey, I'll try. I'll get tested,'" she told the AP. "I really felt from the very beginning that I was going to be a match and a donor. I don't know why, but I just knew it."

44-year-old Sanchez only confessed to his urgent need on Facebook because his doctor suggested the social network might be a reasonable hope, and when he received Almon's private note, he wasn't exactly convinced it was real. After all, elections were due shortly.

Still, Almon went through with the testing and her hunch turned out to be correct. On April 8, doctors removed Almon's kidney and gave it to Sanchez. Both are reportedly doing just fine.

"I don't want people to see this as something larger than life," Almon told the AP. "There's nothing special about me. Anybody can try to do this, and if it's meant to be, you'll be a match and a donor and you can really help someone."

Almon reportedly didn't use her actions to try to win the election. She didn't create publicity for herself at a time when some might imagine she would have enjoyed it. And she won the election anyway.

Facebook is an excellent place for people to meet, communicate, and even create new bonds. And this is a truly rare, beautiful and human story in which social networking played a vital part. However, there's also something quite heartening that, at least for these two human beings, they made a choice on what information should be made public and what should stay private. That choice is something we should surely all enjoy and respect. That includes Facebook.