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ATLANTA --Two McDonough men arewill be taking part in the state's first-ever "live tweet" of aliving donor kidney transplantation and robotic nephrectomyat Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.

Minute-by-minute updates, photos and videos of John Hembree and David Edwards' surgeries began streaming at 7 a.m. through Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

"We're taking awareness of living organ donation to a new level by using the power of social media to share these men's stories and demonstrate the incredible impact a living donor can have on someone's life," said Harrison Pollinger, M.D., whois performing Hembree's robotic nephrectomy (kidney removal) at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. "With approximately 90,000 people across the United States still waiting for a kidney, our hope is to find people like John Hembree who are willing to donate a kidney."

Hembree, the living donor, came in secret to Piedmont Atlanta a few months ago to see if his kidney was a match for Edwards, a fellow church member, after hearing through his daughter Edwards was placed on a kidney transplant waiting list. Hembree had only met Edwards once. When tests confirmed Hembree's kidney was a match, he sent a handwritten letter to Edwards with a life-saving offer.

"The Hembree family will be at Piedmont Hospital on December 14, 2012, near the transplant center and operating room. We were wondering if your family could join our family...," said Hembree in his letter to the Edwards family. "I wanted to be sure all the results were final before asking you this question: I have a 53-year-old kidney, would you like to have it?"

Edwards, who currently has minimal kidney function due to polycystic kidney disease - a genetic condition which has affected his family for generations - accepted Hembree's offer. Edwards' father, who also suffered from polycystic kidney disease, had a kidney transplant years ago at Piedmont Atlanta and found his living donor through the very same church.

Since half of all kidneys transplanted at Piedmont Atlanta come from living donors, the hope is to find more people like Hembree willing to give the gift of a second chance at life by broadcasting these men's stories via social media. Also, the transplant physicians at Piedmont Atlanta aim to inspire a new generation of surgeons.

"In addition to telling these men's incredible stories, we're inviting all medical students and future physicians in training across the United States to participate and ask us questions during the live tweet," said Miguel Tan, M.D., who will be performing Edwards' kidney transplantation. "Anyone with access to social media will be able to witness the surgeries as they happen."

Piedmont Atlanta Hospital's Matthew Mulloy, M.D., a transplant physician, will be tweeting responses on behalf of the surgeons performing the robotic nephrectomy and kidney transplantation.

For more information on living organ donation, visit piedmonttransplant.org/livingdonor.

To participate in the live Tweet or to follow the surgeries starting on Friday at 7 a.m., please follow Piedmont Healthcare on:

Twitter: @PiedmontHealth

Pinterest: pinterest.com/piedmonthealth

Facebook: www.facebook.com/piedmonthospital

Instagram: instagram.com/piedmonthealthcare

YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/piedmonthealthcare

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