I’m reposting this article from The Globe and Mail. Is it ironic that I am using social media to post an article that critiques the use of social media in seeking organ donations? That is one question, but not the main one that concerns me. I highlight the concerns expressed in the following lines from the article: how to approach public solicitations for live organ donors in the age of social media. And it raises a thorny debate around whether an individual’s popularity, social status or media savvy gives him or her an unfair advantage.
In late April, seven-month-old Delfina Budziak moved into Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children to wait for a donation to replace her failing liver.
Less than three weeks later, her father, Peter Budziak, heard from a co-worker that Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk needed a liver, too. A public appeal made on Melnyk’s behalf, at a news conference and shared on his hockey team’s widely followed Facebook and Twitter accounts, attracted more than 500 people willing to offer up part of their livers.
The hockey magnate didn’t cross Budziak’s mind again until Delfina’s mother was initially ruled out as a suitable match for Delfina, who was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a condition in which the bile ducts of the liver are blocked or not fully developed. Budziak pulled out his mobile phone and tapped out a plea on his Facebook page, and asked a few friends to spread the word.
The tactic had worked for Melnyk, he thought: “Maybe that can work for us.”
But even as it serves as an inspiration for some, Melnyk’s case still makes others uneasy. It highlights an issue that many in the field of organ transplantation are now trying to grapple with: how to approach public solicitations for live organ donors in the age of social media. And it raises a thorny debate around whether an individual’s popularity, social status or media savvy gives him or her an unfair advantage.
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