Rick Pomelow of Waterville is pictured alongside kidney donor Mark Obert. Despite having never previously met him, Obert offered to donate a kidney to save Pomelow's life after seeing his family's plea on Facebook. Credit: Photo courtesy of Help Hope Live

A Waterville man has a second chance at life after a stranger found his desperate plea for a kidney donation on Facebook, according to a nonprofit helping raise funds for the man.

Rick Pomelow became ill suddenly in May of 2016, and when doctors determined he had just 10 percent kidney function, he was placed on emergency dialysis to stay alive, the organization said.

But the waiting list for a kidney transplant is longer than five years for the average patient, time the veteran Pomelow and his family — wife Jennifer and teenage daughter Hannah — didn’t think he had.

[Subscribe to our free morning newsletter and get the latest headlines in your inbox]

The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit Help Hope Live, which is now collecting donations for Pomelow’s post-surgery medical expenses, described what happened next: “Desperate, Rick and his family posted on Facebook hoping that, somehow, the post might inspire someone in their community to step forward as a potential living kidney donor.”

Another veteran with Maine ties living in Colorado saw the post. Mark Obert volunteered to be a donor and after testing, was determined to be a perfect match for Pomelow.

As it turned out, the two men both attended Madison Area Memorial High School within two years of each other, but had never met before April 8 of this year, 10 days before the surgery.

[South Portland woman finds kidney donor with sign on her car window]

“We hugged, talked, went out to eat, and met Mark’s son,” said Pomelow. “We really got to know each other.”

Pomelow said the two men plan to meet up every year on the anniversary of the transplant, “maybe for a Red Sox or Bruins game.”

Pomelow still faces significant medical costs related to the transplant, including $1,200 each month for immunosuppressant medications, which Help Hope Live is seeking donations for. Interested donors can visit helphopelive.org for more information.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.