I found a kidney through Facebook: How patients are turning to social networks to save their lives
Facebook is the perfect tool for finding old friends, new friends and now it also appears – kidney donors.
Social networks are
fast becoming a go-to place to find a generous person with a kidney to spare,
according to charities.
Damon Brown, 38, was one such sufferer who told his story on a special Facebook page under the name 'Damon Kidney.'
Second chance: Damon Brown with his wife, Bethany, as they hold their sons Theo, 3, left, and Julian, 5, at their home in Seattle
Life-saving: Father-of-two Damon Brown, 38, from Seattle found a donor on Facebook after setting up a page telling his story under the name, 'Damon Kidney'
The father-of-two from Seattle, who was looking for a kidney donor with blood type O, knew it was a large ask.
But his friends and family helped to spread the word by forwarding the page and eventually Jacqueline Ryall, who his wife had known for years volunteered to give him her kidney.
'She said it wasn't really for me. It was for my kids, because they deserve to have a dad around,' Mr Brown said.
And 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.
Desperate: As Damon's health deteriorated, he and his wife, Bethany, pictured, decided to created the Facebook page
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.