Wednesday, July 18

Increasing Awareness: Organ Donation

If you trend “organ donation” on BlogPulse, an automated trend and search system for blogs developed by Neilsen BuzzMetrics, you’ll notice a spike yesterday. Today, when the results post, it will be larger.

Why the sudden interest in organ donation, a topic that generally sees only one or two mentions in the mainstream media? Two words: Antony Berkman.

This awareness spike is why I sometimes think of Berkman, president of BlogCatalog, as the polar opposite of Andrew Keen. Berkman believes social media can do great good and, every now and again, he sets his sights on an underserved or underreported social awareness issue to prove it.

Last time, members of his social blog directory focused on education, a campaign that directly benefited more than 1,000 students through DonorsChoose.org.

This time, after members requested an international issue, Berkman settled on organ donation. And, with an assist, BlogCatalog.com even received some mainstream media attention, including Medical News Today (the number one medical news search engine with 1.7 million visitors a month), drawing attention to what has become a global member-driven social awareness campaign. For his part, Berkman encouraged scores of bloggers to make history by participating in the campaign. It looks like they did it.

So who are these bloggers? As an open social blog directory, BlogCatalog.com members include people from all over the world, each with a blog (some have several), who cover a diverse range of topics. But today, most of them focused on some aspect of organ donation, depending on what best served their readers.

Some focused on success stories like Alex Pratt, who suffered from kidney disease for more than 20 years until finding a match at Matching Donors, some wrote on the darker topic of the Black Market as recently covered by Slate Magazine, and some asked their readers to visit OganDonor.gov or provided links to programs within their own countries. Others included how many people are waiting for transplants, ranging from more than 1,700 in Australia to over 2 million in China.

“When you look at the numbers, it’s very frightening. People are dying because they need organs and there are not enough available,” Berkman told me when I asked for NBCB why he chose the sometimes controversial topic. “So we asked ourselves what would happen if we chose one day to make organ donation the most talked about topic on the Web, and then asked our members to write around this important issue.”

Berkman says he is inspired with each new post on blogs like Go! Smell The Flowers, Healthy Lifestyles, and Sensibilid (AD). Together, he says, he knows they have all made a difference.

I think so. Not only does it raise awareness, but it shows me that we often find what we look for in the world or on the Web. Whereas some people work to support antidotal thinking that suggests social media is evil, Berkman employs it to encourage people to do good.

Digg!

4 comments:

Kim on 7/18/07, 12:50 PM said...

I never thought about becoming an organ donor, but after reading up on the topic (thanks to BlogCatalog), I've downloaded my state's form so I can become a donor too.

Dave Undis on 7/18/07, 5:31 PM said...

Over half of the 97,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 6,000 of our neighbors suffer and die needlessly every year as a result.

There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

Rich on 7/19/07, 10:00 AM said...

Dave,

That is a very interesting perceptive that I have never considered. It seems this position would be very difficult to communicate on several points, but not necessarily untrue or incorrect.

It makes perfect sense on a purely logical level and I really appreciate you taking the time to share it. At minimum, one would think (I guess I never thought it would be any other way) that those on the transplant waiting list, at minimum, would be donors.

It makes me wonder if those who would are not organ donors for reasons of faith would still be willing to accept a transplant, because one would think that if they did, it would be an equal abandonment of their faith. That's a hard question to contemplate. I don't have answer, but I'm glad you brought it up.

All my best,
Rich

Rich on 7/20/07, 3:07 PM said...

UPDATE:

The BlogCatalog spike increased organ donation awareness on the Internet by eight times the amount of previous days, and continues to have traction, which seem to demonstrate some sustainability.

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