Editor’s Note: Staff contributor Derrick Cruise works to actively raise awareness for both breast and prostate cancer. As a staff contributor, he writes about these and other bleeding edge health care topics for Medtopicwriter and the All Media Freelance, LLC family of websites. In his free time, he enjoys having fun with his family and writing for his own site http://eatbreatheblog.com/.
Traditionally, people who need an organ have to wait until a matching donor passes away. The average wait time for patients receive an organ is three to five years, as reported by CBS Chicago. But for those who need a kidney transplant that can come from a living donor, there’s now a new option. Through social media, people around the country are finding willing and matching donors, and receiving transplants in far less time than they would from a traditional donor list.
A professor discovers the power of Facebook
Take the example of Indiana University East professor Jerry Wilde. According to the Indianapolis Star, in 2009, Wilde discovered that the donated kidney he received in 1990 had grown a large tumor. It had to be removed, which meant a dependence on dialysis. The dialysis treatments became too time consuming and difficult for the 49-year-old, and he began his search for a kidney donor.
Since kidneys can come from living donors, Wilde didn’t have to wait on a traditional donor list. But because he’d already had one transplant, his body had developed strong antibodies that made finding a matching donor difficult. He was able to find two willing donors who were also matches, but the medical team he was working with determined that neither potential donor was healthy enough to donate a kidney. Discouraged, Wilde turned to Facebook—and it was with a Facebook post that the campaign to save Wilde’s life began.
A potential donor “likes” her match
Leah Hostalet, a friend and former student, took up the cause and created the “Find a Kidney for Jerry” page on Facebook. Through the page, Wilde connected with his kidney donor, Becky Melton. The two were strangers before they connected via social media, but today they’re lifelong friends and share a connection that can only come from offering a part of yourself to save someone else’s life. The transplant, which occurred on February 24th of this year, was successful; doctors now expect Wilde to have a full recovery.
But Wilde’s success story is no longer a rare one: using social media to recruit donors is a growing trend. People facing the need for a transplant have begun to realize that the traditional route of getting a donor is often slow and difficult to endure. When family and friends don’t yield a matching donor, social media can broadcast a patient’s need across the globe.
There’s no doubt that social media is changing the way the world interacts. Stories like Jerry Wilde’s show that social media can do more than help former classmates and coworkers find each other online. The power of social media is changing the world of medicine, and more people now believe that it’s a transformation that can help save lives. The next time you log on to Facebook, you could stumble across the opportunity to help someone have a long and healthy life.
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