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By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the last year, a homegrown effort in Philadelphia has helped people get some relief from devastating medical bills. For a small amount of money, hundreds of people have made a difference.

Jeffrey Rose of upstate New York has been fighting a double whammy. First, he had kidney cancer. Then, last year, his liver failed.

“Just couldn’t do it anymore,” Jeff said.

He and his wife drove six hours away to Philadelphia to be evaluated for a double transplant at Hahnemann University Hospital. Jeff was so sick, he couldn’t return home.

Finally, he got good news. Jeff got the transplant in October and is now recovering at Philadelphia’s Gift of Life Family House.

“Without an organ donor, I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said.

But their finances have suffered. His wife, Jeannine Rose, said, “Since we’ve been here, I’ve lost my job. Our car was repossessed. I’ve barely held onto our house.”

A Philadelphia woman had a plan to help. Marion Leary had heard many stories like this.

“They literally were deciding between food or rent and paying their medical bills, and I just couldn’t sit around and not do anything,” she said.

More than a year ago, Marion started a Facebook page called Sink or Swim Philadelphia. It uses crowdfunding, or asking for small donations from many people.

“If just one person gave one dollar and 100 people gave one dollar, you can really help someone get the break they need,” Marion said.

Sink or Swim Philadelphia raised enough money for the Rose family to pay for their insurance for several months.

“For five or six months, we won’t have to worry about that bill, and that’s a wonderful feeling,” Jeannine said.

In the first 12 months of Sink or Swim Philadelphia, it raised more than $22,000 and helped 12 families.

For more info, visit: http://sinkorswimphiladelphia.org or their Facebook page.

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