Donating a kidney to a rediscovered pal

February 18, 2008 4:32:17 AM PST
Two grade-school friends who reconnected online after more than a decade are becoming more than bosom buddies - one is donating a kidney to his rediscovered pal.

"He's giving me something not too many people would give," Ricardo Manier, 21, said of his friend Karl Celestin. The transplant surgery is set for Tuesday at a Manhattan hospital, the Daily News of New York reported.

The two were close friends and classmates at Holy Family School in Queens until Manier's family moved to California in 1996, after his eighth-grade year. They soon lost touch.

Manier has focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a kidney-scarring disease that often causes chronic kidney failure, according to the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health's Medline Plus Web site. He has been hospitalized repeatedly since he was 5.

Nonetheless, he was a premed student at a California college until June, when his kidneys virtually stopped working, he said. During his six-week hospitalization, the networking Web site Facebook served up Celestin's name.

The two soon got together in New York, where Manier now lives.

Celestin, a student at a medical school in the Dominican Republic, said he volunteered for the kidney donation because it pained him to see his old friend's similar ambitions delayed by his condition, which led to dialysis three times a week.

"I put myself in his shoes," Celestin said.

Manier now hopes to join him at his medical school in the fall.