Source: Canton Citizen
Nineteen people die every day in the United States waiting for a kidney transplant. The team at Canton-based MatchingDonors.com is working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.
On January 20, members of MatchingDonors.com, including Joel Pratt of Canton, and of Pratt Realtors in Canton, and Walter A. Towner II of Smithfield, Rhode Island, were invited to the Massachusetts State House as distinguished guests of Governor Deval Patrick and Senator Brian Joyce.
Both were then presented three official citations for the lifesaving work they have done finding people organ transplants. Each received a citation from the Massachusetts Senate from Senator Joyce, a citation from the House of Representatives from Representative William Galvin, and a citation from Governor Patrick.
Pratt and Towner were then directed to the Senate Chambers, where Senate President Therese Murray handed the gavel to Joyce, who introduced them to the Senate. They then received a standing ovation from the entire Senate for the lifesaving work they do.
Pratt is the director of business development and Towner is the director of patient relations at MatchingDonors.com.
The nonprofit was launched in January of 2004 as an Internet service based in Canton. Patients on transplant lists put their profiles on the website, and potential donors browse the site for a life they want to help save. Donors are not compensated, since it is against the law to have any financial benefit from organ donation.
Since the inception of MatchingDonors.com, directed living organ donations have increased to historic numbers. MatchingDonors.com is now the largest living donor organization in the world.
“We believe that if more people were better educated on the ability to be a live organ donor, and we add in the personal communication between potential organ donors and patients needing an organ, the number of donors will increase and so will the probability of a patient receiving their much needed organ,” said Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, MatchingDonors.com medical director. “We already have over 8,676 potential donors on our site waiting to find patients needing organs.
“MatchingDonors.com is the most comprehensive searching system available. Other organizations concentrate mainly on the passive anonymous portion of finding organ donors – leaving little or no communication between patients and potential donors.”
Over the past six years, MatchingDonors.com has made historic strides in saving the lives of people needing organ transplants, and increasing living organ donation in the United States. The organization has won many awards and commendations from Congress and the president of the United States, but does not currently receive any funds from the government.
As of February 16, there were 110,320 patients waiting for an organ transplant in the United States; yet from January to November 2010, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a non-profit organization contracted with the U.S. Department of Health, there were only 26, 218 organ transplants performed in the United States.
Currently, patients waiting for an organ donation are placed on the UNOS national waiting list. A computer system matches patients to donor organs according to objective criteria such as blood and tissue type, immune status, medical urgency, and time spent on the waiting list. This ranking system determines which patients are offered available organs. This process is extremely important in anyone’s organ search, but now MatchingDonors.com offers a way to enhance the search with a more active approach.
MatchingDonors.com’s main objective is to search the world to find potential live donors for people in need of organ transplants. Patient members of MatchingDonors.com provide a personal biography as well as pictures of their choice to display on the website, which will create an interest in them and their life story. When patients in need of an organ transplant place themselves into the MatchingDonors database, their information will be promoted on the website. MatchingDonors.com advertises and promotes its website in many different ways through extensive public relations networking to increase potential donors viewing the site.
The personal connection MatchingDonors.com provides is key to finding a potential live donor. According to the National Kidney Foundation, “Nearly one out of four (23.4 percent) of 1,000 people queried told pollsters that they would be ‘likely’ to consider donating a kidney or a portion of their liver or lung to help save the life of someone they did not know.” Many people feel more comfortable considering offering a live donation to someone they may have a connection to or a common bond.
When patients provide their biography and open up personally, the potential for live donors to respond is increased. To help educate people about the option of live organ donation, MatchingDonors.com provides extensive information regarding the safety and types of donations available.
MatchingDonors.com is not an organ donor waiting list and is not associated with any organ donor organization. It is a nonprofit venue where patients and potential donors can communicate and hopefully expedite a live donor agreeing to give a much-needed organ. MatchingDonors.com gives patients and potential donors the important communication tools to correspond with each other, but once the contact between the parties has been made, the road to transplant surgery is their own.
Anyone interested in donating to support MatchingDonors.com services can do so by calling MatchingDonors.com at 781-821-2204.