Facebook 'helps find kidney donors'
Facebook and other social media sites are quickly becoming a go-to place to find a generous person with a kidney to spare, according to people asking for help and some national organisations in the US which facilitate matches.
Between the children's photographs and reminiscences about school days, more and more pleas for help from people with failing kidneys are popping up.
Damon Brown found a kidney on Facebook after telling his story on a special page the Seattle father created under the name 'Damon Kidney'.
His friends and family forwarded the link to everyone they knew and on January 3 a woman his wife has known for years, but not someone they consider a close family friend, will be giving him a kidney. "She said it wasn't really for me. It was for my kids, because they deserve to have a dad around," said Mr Brown, 38.
Mr Brown's story is not unique, said April Paschke, a spokeswoman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, a private non-profit organisation that manages the US's organ transplant system for the federal government.
"We see more and more people matched up by social media," she said. "It's an extension of the way we communicate. Before we found the internet, people found other ways: through a church bulletin, word of mouth or an advertisement even."
Last year, a man in Michigan also found a kidney donor through Facebook, and a Florida woman found one through Craigslist.
Mr Brown admits he was a little embarrassed to ask for help so publicly. He was on the official transplant list and had started mobile dialysis through Northwest Kidney Centres but Mr Brown was seeing his health deteriorate - he was constantly tired and achy. He could not sit on the bed to tell bedtime stories to five-year-old Julian and three-year-old Theo because he had to stay close to his dialysis machine.
"I'm a strong guy but I would have to say it's been rough this year," he said. Mr Brown had put himself on the long waiting list for a kidney from a deceased donor, knowing he would have to wait at least three years before he was called.
After one particularly difficult visit with his doctor, Mr Brown and his wife, Bethany, decided to create the Facebook page, which has attracted more than 1,400 friends. A few weeks ago, after the transplant was approved and scheduled, Mr Brown posted the good news to his Facebook friends, and more than 300 people responded with messages of congratulations.