Social Networks Used To Find Organ Donors

Hi folks, happy new year from everyone at SocialSafe! We hope you all had a merry time over the festive period, but now it’s time for most of us to get back to work.

We’re going to jump straight back into things on the SocialSafe blog with a story about the growing trend of using social networking sites to help find people who are able to help during times of medical crises.

When the likes of Zuckerberg, Dorsey et al first conceived the ideas of their respective social networks, the primary functionality was likely just to have a bit of online fun with your friends and acquaintances. But now the far-reaching power is such that people can find almost anything they need by using services such as Facebook and Twitter – even replacement organs.

36-year-old Dan Garrett from Seattle recently received a new kidney after his wife posted a message on Facebook looking for a donor. Although the couple didn’t find a match among friends and family, the message spread so far that Facebook member Aly Carr, 26, offered up hers despite not knowing the couple in need.

According to the French Tribune, there are dozens of groups returned when the term ‘need kidney’ is entered into Facebook. And in 2011 a twitter user suffering from kidney disease tweeted that he needed a new kidney, and 19 people replied offering to be tested to see if they were a suitable donor.

It’s a warming thought that social networks have evolved to the point where people can use their friends’ extended networks to receive help in potentially life or death situations and get quick responses in what are generally time-critical circumstances.

I have witnessed this first hand with my friend Hannah Bradley, who needs to raise £200,000 to fund treatment at the Burzynski Clinic in the USA for her brain cancer. In a few short months the amount raised has exceeded £125,000 and Hannah has now started treatment in Texas. The fundraising started with a few friends posting links to the Team Hannah Facebook page and the blog set up by her partner, but now there are people on the other side of the world who have never met Hannah who are posting messages of support and donating money.

People often like to talk down about social networks for the amount of time that they may or may not take away from the working day, but for every person posting their latest Farmville achievement I am sure there is someone else clicking ‘Share’ on a link that may just reach the person who can save someone’s life.