You wouldn't think you'd find a new kidney through a site advertising yard sales.

But Marine Sgt. Craig Santos was getting desperate. His wife's kidneys were failing from the same disorder -- polycystic kidney disease -- that killed her mother. He couldn't offer one of his kidneys; tests showed they weren't compatible.

Santos, an Air Control Squadron 2 aviation supply specialist at the base in Beaufort, had tried Twitter and Craigslist and gotten nothing. He was running out of time. Angela was getting weaker.

Santos put an ad for a kidney donor on a website called

Cpl. Stephanie St. Laurent, a Fighter Attack Squadron 533 jet mechanic, saw the ad and stepped forward.

"A Marine was helpless," she said after the operation. "His wife was dying and he needed help."

It's not easy finding a kidney. According to the National Kidney Foundation:

--About 83,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for kidney transplants.

--More than 2,000 new patients are added to the list every year.

--Only 17,000 got new kidneys last year.

--Each year, more than 87,000 Americans die from causes related to kidney failure.

Testing showed they were compatible. The doctors warned her of the risks. As with any major surgery, there was always the danger she wouldn't wake up.

"When they told me the worst can happen, I had a will drawn up and a power of attorney done," she said. "But the worst can happen when I get deployed too, you know. I didn't join the Marine Corps because I was afraid to do something. I'm not going to turn my back on somebody if there is a way I can help them."

Both women had surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina Aug. 24. Dr. Kenneth Chavin took out St. Laurent's left kidney. Dr. Prabhakar Baliga did the transplant. He put the new organ below Santos' right kidney, leaving the original kidney in place and hooking up the new kidney to blood vessels and bladder.

They were sent home three days later. St. Laurent, from Oceanside, Calif., was back at work a week later.

"She's definitely a lifesaver," Craig Santos said. "It's a new life, a new beginning."

Angela also is up and around, much stronger than before the operation. She and Craig are staying with his parents in Mount Pleasant while she recovers.

She is taking eight pills a day to fight infection and rejection. She will remain on two of them for life. She's working on a website to raise money for kidney research and encourage others to donate organs.

"I've been given another chance, so I want to make sure there are others out there who can get another chance as well," she said.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.