Voice of America | Jessica BermanPhoto: Damon Brown sits with his wife, Bethany, as they hold their sons Theo, 3, left, and Julian, 5, at their home in Seattle. Damon Brown found a kidney on Facebook after telling his story on a special page the Seattle dad created under the name, “Damon Kidney
On May 1, the social networking site Facebook launched a project to put people willing to donate a kidney in touch with those in need of a kidney transplant. Members who want to donate a kidney were urged to post a status update indicating that. Many experts say the move could increase the supply of donated kidneys, but they point to ethical and medical concerns.
In the United States alone, there are an estimated 114,000 people waiting for an organ transplant. The vast majority are seeking a kidney, either from a live donor - since we each have two kidneys - or someone who had agreed to donate their organs after death. Every day, 18 people in the U.S. die, waiting for a kidney to become available.
So, Facebook has begun encouraging its U.S. members who want to donate a kidney to declare their desire to do so on their page. With the number of Facebook members approaching one billion worldwide, some transplant specialists are excited that the initiative could dramatically increase the supply of live donor kidneys.
In an interview on Skype, David Fleming of Donate Life America, a Richmond, Virginia-based organization dedicated to encouraging people to donate their organs for transplant, said declaring a decision to become an organ donor on Facebook is an opportunity to save a life.
"I think it's rare in our lives here on this Earth that we have an opportunity to do something, that is going to impact, save or heal someone's life or restore sight," Fleming noted. "And what an incredible way to leave this world is to be able to offer someone else a chance at a second life, to be able to have children or get married or see their children graduate from high school or college. It's just an incredible, selfless act of kindness."
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