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A New Use For Facebook, YouTube: Recruiting Organ Donors

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Jeffrey Wilson, 51, found a kidney donor through Facebook. (CBS)

Jeffrey Wilson, 51, found a kidney donor through Facebook. (CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Social media is now being used to help save lives.

Traditionally, people searching for organ donors pass the word among friends, family, or church members.

There are also a couple of websites that will help you find a donor, but there’s nothing like Facebook and YouTube, where a simple post or an entertaining video can reach not just friends but strangers who might be willing to help.

Jeffrey Wilson gets his new kidney on March 16. After 17 months on dialysis, the 51-year-old financial analyst finally found a donor — through Facebook.

Wilson used the social media site to update his friends on his condition, and every now and then he’d wrap up with a gentle reminder, basically saying, “I still need a transplant. I’m still in dialysis.”

Andy Frye, a former work buddy Wilson hadn’t seen in five years, saw a post back in January, called Wilson and made the life-changing offer.

“It makes you realize that there are people out there who think more of others than they think of themselves,” Wilson tells CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker. “For that, I’m eternally grateful to Andy.”

Wilson is one of growing number of organ seekers using Facebook and other social media sites to find donors. David Goldman turned to YouTube and posted a humorous, musical video.

“I figured if I made it entertaining there’s a better chance people would share it,” Goldman says.

So far, Goldman’s gotten more than 1,200 views. About dozen people have been tested, but so far no matches. Still, he’s hopeful.

“People have legitimate reasons obviously whey they can’t do it,” Goldman says. “But people are passing it around, and I’m just waiting for the right person to see it.”

Wilson says he and Frye have a doctor’s appointment next week.

Doctors and representatives of organ donor networks say they have no problem with people using social media to find organ donors. They say it’s often a lifesaver because the average wait for an organ from a deceased person is three to five years.

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