Sign in to Facebook and save a life? - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Sign in to Facebook and save a life?

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(11/06/12) - If you happen to hop on Facebook while you are online, you should know that you can register yourself as an organ donor there. It is a new feature the site added this spring, after it was discovered that sharing that information on Facebook was already saving lives.

"I was desperate. I didn't know what to do," says Roxy Kurze, whose husband Jeffrey had a bad kidney.

Like more than 90,000 Americans in need of a transplant, Jeffrey was put on the national waiting list and told he'd have to wait three to five years.
"I don't want to lose my husband," she says, which is why, one night, Roxy went on Facebook and posted about Jeffrey's ordeal.

Within an hour of the post, Ricky Cisco responded. "What got me is that she said she needed a type O."

The two met the next day, and Ricky volunteered to donate a kidney to Jeffrey. "She didn't know what to say at first."

"I was like 'what'," Roxy says.

The transplant was a success, says Dr. Alan Koffron. He believes Roxy's desperate post sparked one of the first instances of social media leading to an organ transplant. "She started a whole phenomenon."

In fact, on May 1, Facebook enabled an option that helps users register as donors and share their donor status with others. It seemed to be a hit. To date, Facebook officials say more than 300,000 users have changed their status to "organ donor". But can social media attract enough donors to shorten the long waiting list?

Dr. Koffron believes it's possible. "The more people who know the dilemma and how to fix it, the more that could be fixed."

But other transplant experts have been quoted as saying the effort has not really "moved the needle." Still, Facebook's effort continues and is expanding to users in more countries.

"People from around the world have reached out to us," Roxy says.

Roxy, Jeff, and Ricky continue their own efforts to raise awareness about organ donation. Jeffrey can't thank his wife or donor enough. "So grateful. I love them both so much. They're family now. I got some new family members out of it."     

Some proponents suggest Facebook should allow donor registries to advertise for free on the site.

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