A secret search for a kidney is the journey Savannah Lewis and her mom Melissa Lewis are on. This mother-daughter duo is using social media to get the word out that Savannah’s father needs a new kidney without him knowing their plan.
Jason “Jay” Lewis, a 39-year-old father of six and a husband of 10 years to Melissa, 38, has stage five kidney failure due to polycystic kidney disease. Jay discovered he had polycystic kidney disease when he was 16. The disease is genetic and Melissa says unfortunately each kid has a 50-50 shot of getting it.
"I always pray that none of mine (kids) have it," she said.
Recently Savannah, 8, one of the couple's six children, made a video aiming to get “one million likes and shares” hoping to spread the word of the family's search for a "gift of life" as they call it.
Now, all of Jay's children are in on the secret. Melissa and her children collaborated and made a video to get the word out.
The Scranton, Pennsylvania-based family has two different Facebook platforms they are using to get the word out, and Melissa’s husband still doesn’t know they’re “on the search for a living kidney donor.”
Originally, Melissa began the Kidney For Jay Give the Gift of Life Today Facebook page in March 2017. Her daughter Savannah wanted to help out. Savannah created her own Facebook page called Savannah’s Secret Gift of Life Search.
"We are searching the world for an extra special amazing person to give my husband his life back and be able to have the energy to watch our six kids grow up,” Melissa said.
Jay's has type B blood but can accept from an O. A donor can also enter Paired Kidney Exchange if they are not a direct match. He is on transplant list at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Although their search is a secret for now, Melissa was willing to risk it to get the word out there.
“For a great cause and if it will get the word out so it helps us to find a living kidney donor, I say go for it," she said.
Jay's mother, Cate, is also in need of a kidney transplant.
"I asked his mother if I can do the same (search through Facebook) for her and she wants to hold off on herself until her son gets one," Melissa said. "We all work for Davita dialysis -- me, my mother-in-law, and my husband."
Jay has been a biomed tech for over 20 years and has worked his way up.
“All of the units that Jay goes to... everybody at work has managed to keep it a secret," Melissa said.
While secret-keeping is doing well at home, there are plans to publicize even more out of view from Jay. Melissa's brother Scott Brunnenmeyer is putting up a billboard in Philadelphia off the turnpike in mid-June.
“It’s hard trying to keep one of the biggest secrets of a lifetime from your best friend," Melissa said. "But, so far, the world and I aren’t doing such a bad job at it.”