POWNAL — Linda Deming’s unconventional approach to finding someone willing to give her a kidney has given her a new lease on life.

She found a suitable donor in just six months – the average wait to receive a donation is 3½ years – and the abundance of willing candidates reaffirmed her faith in humanity.

The night before Deming was scheduled to receive that lifesaving transplant, she met for the first time the Maine woman who is giving her a kidney.

Although each had seen photographs of the other, the women shared a big hug and lots of tears when they met Monday evening at Deming’s home on Brown Road in Pownal.

“It’s nice to finally put a face to a name,” Amber McIntyre, 37, of Kenduskeag told Deming as the women embraced.

“I can’t tell you how much this means to me,” Deming replied. “You’re awesome.”


“No, you’re awesome,” said McIntyre, a mother of four young boys.

When a reporter asked her how she felt, Deming said, “I’m melting. I don’t know what to say. I can’t describe it. She’s real now.”

McIntyre and her husband, Michael, drove to Pownal to have dinner with Deming and her husband, Ian. They will likely meet again later this week after the women have surgery Tuesday morning at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

By locating a donor so quickly, Deming avoided a fate that befalls many people waiting for a kidney. The National Kidney Foundation website says 4,761 people in the United States died while waiting for a transplant in 2014. The odds of surviving long enough to get a kidney have prompted more and more people to take matters into their own hands to find a suitable donor.

The road that the two women took to finally meet began in September when the 66-year-old Deming started asking for a kidney donation on roadside signs she put up in Pownal and Freeport. She also placed messages in the windows of her car and created a Facebook page called “A Kidney for Linda.” Her family and friends wore buttons that read, “My friend needs a kidney.”

Deming’s signs asked brief questions and were placed in sequence, along with her phone number. They read, “I need a new kidney.” “Before it’s too late.” “Would you try to donate?”


After her unusual plea caught the attention of media outlets last fall, Deming started receiving transplant offers from across the country.

More than 50 potential donors filled out health screening packets before her doctors narrowed the field of acceptable candidates.

Two donors were deemed acceptable, a woman from South Portland and McIntyre, who works as a waitress at Pepino’s, a Mexican restaurant in Bangor.

Although the South Portland woman was available to undergo the transplant sooner than McIntyre, Deming said her doctors advised against it. They felt that her body had a much higher chance of accepting McIntyre’s kidney.

On Feb. 18, her doctors approved the transplant.

“That’s when it became real,” Deming said.


Unlike a kidney transplant that nearly got derailed last year because of a GoFundMe campaign that raised nearly $50,000 to help support the donor’s family, the Demings have taken steps to make sure there are no snags.

Ian Deming said he and his wife saved enough money on their own to pay for McIntyre’s lost wages – estimated to be about four weeks. They will donate the money to the Maine Transplant Center, which in turn will reimburse McIntyre for wages she would have earned if she had not undergone the medical procedure. If there is any money left over, the funds will be retained by the transplant center.

The Demings’ insurance is paying for the cost of the transplant, which averaged roughly $262,000 in 2011, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

Early last year, a 30-year-old corrections officer from Windham wanted to give a kidney to a South Portland woman who had sought a donor with a message written on the rear window of her car. He was a match, but officials at the transplant center expressed concerns that the money raised online to pay for his lost wages might violate national and international laws designed to prevent the sale of organs.

The transplant was put on hold until lawyers sorted out the legal and ethical issues. In the end, they determined that the donation was altruistic, and the woman received a successful kidney transplant at Maine Medical Center in June 2015.

As for McIntyre, money had nothing to do with her decision, which was made after a story about Deming’s quest for a new kidney popped up on her Facebook page.


“It just showed up on my news feed and I have no idea how it got there,” McIntyre said in a telephone interview Monday.

“After I thought about it, I just knew it was the right thing to do,” said McIntyre, whose boys are 17, 14, 7 and 3. “Our family talks a lot about doing the right thing.”

McIntyre called Deming and reached her husband. She told him that she had the same blood type – A-positive – as Linda Deming.

She filled out a health survey, and underwent blood tests, a genetic screening, a urine test, chest X-rays and a CAT scan.

McIntyre turned out to be the perfect match. Doctors really liked her kidneys, calling them ‘super kidneys.”

“I’m not concerned at all about the procedure or losing one of my kidneys,” McIntyre said. “You really only need one to live.”


Deming said McIntyre agreed to the transplant largely because of her children. “She believes in leading by example,” Deming said in a telephone interview last week.

For Deming, the transplant means no more dialysis treatments. She has been undergoing dialysis three times a week for the past 14 months. Her last treatment took place Monday. Doctors had warned her that it could take up to five years to find a donor.

“I’m one of those people who said I am not going to be kept alive by a machine. I knew in my heart that there was no way I was just going to sit at that machine and do nothing,” Deming said.

When people started offering their kidneys, Deming said it helped restore her faith in the goodness of people.

“It reaffirmed that, yes, there are good people in the world,” Deming said.

After Monday’s emotional introduction, Deming and McIntyre went into a small living area where they sat on a sofa and answered questions from the media while the Demings’ dogs, Cocoa and Sugar, a Cockapoo breed, wandered under tables and chairs.

“It has been a long 14 months waiting for this,” said Deming, who is in end stage renal failure. “I didn’t believe it was going to happen. All I had was hope.”


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