Living Donors and the True Power of Facebook Virality

Talia Baker Director of Living Donor Liver Transplant at Northwestern University

When Rochelle, a patient at Northwestern University’s Comprehensive Transplant Center, first learned that no one in her immediate family was a suitable candidate for partial liver donation, she did what most do in today’s day and age - she took to Facebook. Posting her need for a life-saving organ that could be facilitated through a living donor, Rochelle quickly fielded a candidate list of over twenty people, strangers included. By telling her story to the world, she found people who listened, sympathized, and acted, and in the process created a potential donor pool well beyond her own needs.

Social media is changing the way people who need organ transplants find donors, and in many ways is “leveling the playing field.” Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Periscope allow anyone to share their own stories and declarations with the public in real-time, allowing for immeasurable outreach as individuals across the world connect over common understanding. The best part? All of this is at no monetary cost to people who need organs.

When these stories go viral online, we often see a tangible spike in donation. It is exciting to consider that while only one good-Samaritan can actually donate to any given person, all of those who are moved to come forward are still potential matches for a different recipient. One person’s story actually has the capacity to save dozens of lives. Continue reading
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