Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Facebook user searches for a kidney

Melissa Foster had to wait for nine years before she received a kidney transplant, using a kidney from her brother Matt Freiberg in 1997. But now that kidney is failing and so she did what any normal person would do - she’s turned to Facebook to find one!

She has a page on Facebook, just like 300 million others do (including me ;) ) asking anyone with blood type O to go have a test and help her. It's called, unsurprizingly, Find a Kidney for Melissa Foster. She's tried lots of different ways to attract attention to her dilemma, including a bike ride that got some newspaper publicity and a blog - http://www.kidney4mel.com/

The Facebook page was created in mid May, and is proving popular, with many people linking to it as a friend. If someone links to the site as a friend using their Facebook page, then soon literally millions of people will know about her problem and perhaps a donor will come forward. At the present moment there are 808 people saying they like the page. If each one has 100 friends who each view it and one in ten then mentions it on their page, and each of these have 100 friends, well when you multiply the numbers together, you get a staggering number of people involved.

Melissa began having problems with her kidneys when she was 16 after a urinary tract infection backed up to her kidneys, causing them to fail. She started dialysis treatments at 16 and received her transplant when she was 25.

Now obviously this way of attracting attention might not work for everyone, and of course if hundreds of patients tried this, soon the web would be flooded with "find me a donor" pages, and perhaps others would just switch off to responding. It happens with major disasters, people become so saturated with seeing an appeal for help their brain filters it out. But it might just work - her blog includes a video by another renal failure patient who found a kidney donor via Twitter and Facebook.

So I tried entering "kidney donor found twitter" into Google, and then replaced twitter with facebook. Try it yourself - you'll be amazed with the results. Go on, read some wonderful stories about realy generous people coming forward.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Juggling exams and dialysis

For all teenagers, trying to study properly for exams and being totally prepared for them can be hard work, given how many distractions teenagers have. Especially if you just happen to be on dialysis. Sixteen year old Welsh teenager Sahibaa Ali is in the middle of sitting her GCSE exams but she has a special timetable to fit around the dialysis she has three times a week (she's been on dialysis for two years). It's lucky the exam board can adjust things to help her. Many students with medical problems are unaware that they can get some help for exams. But getting your own special timetable to fit around dialysis treatments is not a common occurrence. Link to news item.

When I broke my back while at university, the Uni generously allowed me more time for each exam, to help with the pain from sitting in one position for several hours, so it is always worth enquiring is help is available.