Sarah Murnaghan, a 10 year old girl who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis and whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation spurred public debate over how organs are allocated, underwent a successful double-lung transplant on Wednesday. Source: Comcast News. Read more on Sarah receiving a lung transplant!
Many people nationwide understand the importance of raising awareness about organ donation. If Sarah’s family had sat quietly by her bedside without fighting her story would be very different and likely one that none of us would have ever heard.
I often see requests from men, women, and children in need of an organ and using social media as a way to get the word out in asking for a donation. Social media can be an excellent way and their are many success stories utilizing facebook to find a donor. I recently read that one in 10 American adults, more than 20 million, have some level of CKD (chronic kidney disease). Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Why do some recipients appear to have a large group of family and friends ready to participate while others quietly die waiting for an organ. Why are some families and friends inclined to do whatever it takes and others are not? I know in my family when my brother Tim needed a kidney, he shared very little information. He didn’t tell us he needed one because he was uncomfortable asking us — probably because he was the oldest of six and was never in the position to ask for help.
I took it upon myself to find out more information and then got tested. I was disappointed to find I was not a match and thought that was the end of it – until a good friend of mine Dr. Brian Justice mentioned that I could donate my kidney as part of an exchange program. In a paired donor exchange, or a kidney swap, two kidney recipients essentially “swap” to willing donors. I had no idea this was a possible option! The hospital didn’t mention it to me nor did my brother Tim.
For my family, like Sarah’s, this story has a happy ending. I was able to donate a kidney through the National Kidney Registry (NKR) and my brother in turn received one and is doing great. All of this happened within 24 hours of being approved on the NKR!
What is the answer for those waiting for a life saving organ donation? For Sarah it was getting the attention of the media, changing a law and getting on a list.
But what about those who need an organ– a living organ is often the best solution. I urge you….
- Find an advocate- it can often be easier for someone else to tell your story than yourself
- Shout it from the rooftops – reach out to the press, social media and tell your family & friends
- Tell a compelling story – tell your personal story.
- Arm yourself with as much information as possible about the organ donation process and your options.
- Attend a workshop for example: http://www.facebook.com/#!/LivingKidneyDonorsNetwork