By Derrick Blakley

(CBS) — Social media gets blamed for plenty of society’s ills these days.

Today, it’s being praised for literally saving a life.

Talk about a welcome Christmas present. Fourteen-year-old Anthony Parello just received a transplanted liver from an unlikely source: a casual friend his mother hadn’t seen since 1991.

“We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have Facebook,” Anthony’s mother, Kimberly Parello, says.

Just one week ago, Anthony received a transplanted liver. His mother’s long-lost friend, Kendra Perpich, was the donor.

“I never even knew Kendra until my mom re-connected with her on Facebook,” Anthony says.

He was born with biliary atresia, a form of liver disease. Then, four years ago, a large tumor was discovered on his liver.

He was listed for a transplant, but there were no obvious donors – not his mom or his dad, or friends or family.

His mom launched a Facebook appeal, creating “Team Anthony.”

Perpich answered. She is an old friend whom Kim hadn’t seen in 24 years.

“People ask, ‘Why would you?’ My question is, why wouldn’t you?”

It took weeks of testing at Northwestern Memorial Hospital before the good news arrived: She was a match.

Last week, almost half of Perpich’s liver, the entire left lobe, was removed by surgeons at Northwestern. Couriers rushed the organ across the street to Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Doctors placed it into Anthony’s body, giving him new life.

“It was a blessing that Kendra was available to be a match, and around Christmas, so that I can actually live a normal  like everyone else,” he says.

The liver regenerates. In about three weeks or so, Perpich’s liver should be back to normal, 100 per cent whole.

Derrick Blakley