Stranger becomes living organ donor after wife's desperate plea on Facebook

A metro Detroit man was sitting down on his lunch break, casually catching up on Facebook when he scrolled past a post that would change two lives forever.

He was going to become a living organ donor. 

In August 2018, 47-year-old Richard Foley didn't know if he was going to live or die. His liver was failing and he needed a transplant. "When I was in the process of this I remember thinking, "I'm gonna die before I'm even 50.' How ridiculous is that?" 

His wife was desperate to find a donor so she turned to Facebook with a plea: "My husband Rick Foley has end stage liver disease. Many don't make it: 22 people a day die waiting. .... You can donate to Rick." 

"I was afraid of it getting out there, like what would people think of me and this and that. And then thinking, well, people are going to read this but no one's going to help me," Rick said.

But in fact a stranger, a fellow auto worker, did want to help.

"I knew right then and there I was the person to do it. How, I can tell you? I don't know, but I knew right then and there I was his match," Wilfredo Pacheco said. 

Wilfredo immediately started getting into shape to become a living organ donor. He was going to the gym, losing weight, and when he did finally meet Rick he told him he was going to save his life.

"The day I told him was the day I met him," Wilfredo said.  

"I was just totally overwhelmed," Rick said. "It was wild." 

Several months after that original Facebook post, Wilfredo and Richard arrived at Henry Ford for the operations. It's two surgeries totaling 18 hours to replace Rick's liver with a large piece of Wilfredo's healthy liver, and both livers immediately starts to grow. 

Now a year later, both men feel great. 

"Donating to you changed my life, and I see life in a whole new perspective. You know, I cherish life every day now. Seeing you, from as sick as you were to what you are now, it makes me smile every day," Wilfredo said to Rick. 

"Having the guts to do what he did? That's something else. He's a real hero." Rick said. 

Wilfredo doesn't exactly like the word hero, and many say just ask yourself - would you accept a donated organ? 

"I would say 99.9% of people would say yes, of course I am comfortable accepting an organ. If you are, line up and be a part of that group, that collective, that's making it possible," says Dr. Marwan Abouljoud with the Henry Ford Health System.

You can learn more about being an organ donor online at Living donors are able to donate one kidney, one lung, a portion of your liver, pancreas and intestine.