Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa woman's Facebook reunion leads to kidney transplant

In April, before the transplant, kidney recipient Hannah Craig, left, and her mother, Doreen Bissonnette, both of Tampa, have lunch with Joy Glanzer, middle; her daughter Hillary Glanzer, who donated the kidney; and Hillary’s boyfriend Danny Santos, of Orlando.

KATHLEEN FLYNN l Times

In April, before the transplant, kidney recipient Hannah Craig, left, and her mother, Doreen Bissonnette, both of Tampa, have lunch with Joy Glanzer, middle; her daughter Hillary Glanzer, who donated the kidney; and Hillary’s boyfriend Danny Santos, of Orlando.

TAMPA — A click onto a Facebook page led to a lifesaving gift this week.

Hannah Craig, 21, needed a kidney. Like most of us, Hillary Glanzer, 28, had an extra.

Glanzer was a friend of Craig's cousin and the two had known each other as children, but lost touch as they grew up. Craig moved to Boston when she was 11 and then back to South Tampa six years ago. Glanzer lives in Orlando.

Glanzer, who saw on Facebook that the girl she had known needed the transplant, offered her kidney "without hesitation," said Craig.

On Monday, doctors performed the kidney transplant at Tampa General Hospital. Both women are recovering. Without a donor, doctors warned it might take three years for Craig to creep up the waiting list for a kidney from a deceased donor.

About 4,500 Americans die waiting each year.

Craig's online transplant search is no fluke. Experts say that patients who need a kidney, which is the most commonly transplanted organ, are increasingly turning to social media websites to find altruistic strangers.

In April, an ABC News broadcast focused on a 35-year-old Michigan man, Jeff Kurze, whose wife had found a donor after she posted a request for her husband on Facebook. The donor was a Facebook "friend" but otherwise a stranger.

A recent Huffington Post article told of how Damon Brown of Seattle found a kidney on Facebook. Jacqueline Ryall, 45, had never met Brown — she was an acquaintance of his wife — but wanted to give. Brown's request appealed to her, in part, because he was a father.

Many of the 92,570 people currently waiting for kidney transplants would prefer an organ from a living donor because they typically last longer than those from cadavers. But of the fewer than 17,000 kidneys transplanted last year, just 5,771 came from living donors, said April Paschke, a spokeswoman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, which maintains the waiting list for the government.

Kidneys from living donors most often come from relatives, Paschke said. The organization does not track altruistic donations by how the connection is made, such as through social media.

"You hear these stories from time to time," Paschke said. These donors fall into a category of unrelated nonbiological, which captured 1,266 transplants last year. Experts say "stranger" donors, though small in numbers, are on the rise despite the risks.

"There are definitely risks for anyone undergoing surgery," Paschke said. "Those risks include deaths."

But the odds of surgical complications are low and life with one kidney, for most, is no different, experts say.

In 2008, three sisters in New York were on the forefront of tapping social media for organ donations when they found a kidney for their father after posting on Craigslist. Their father, now 72, never had to go through dialysis, said one sister, Jennifer Flood. His donor was a California woman who had lost a close mother figure and wanted to do something to help others.

"Dad's doing great," Flood said recently. "And the woman, she's a part of our family now."

After their father's surgery, the sisters started a nonprofit to help link others who need kidneys to donors. To date, they've connected six more pairs who have undergone transplants, including a Tampa woman who was 72. People older than 60 often are considered too old to receive the new organ, Flood said.

According to UNOS, 114,000 people are waiting for organs, including hearts, livers, lungs and kidneys.

Good news for them came last month as Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that users can now indicate that they are organ donors in the health and wellness section of their pages.

It's an example of how social media has evolved from a calender used by a small sector of the population into a ubiquitous form of communication where users can brand themselves, said Erik Black, an assistant professor of pediatrics and education technology at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

These connections rise above drive-by activism when these connections involve the exchange of a life-giving organ, such as a kidney.

"That's a little more than 'liking' something," said Black, who co-edited the book Social Media in Medicine: The Impact of Online Social Networks on Contemporary Medicine. "That's real engagement."

Craig had more than 20 people offer to give her a kidney, said her mother, including others who did not know her. Many of them couldn't because of incompatible blood types or antibodies.

This is Craig's second kidney transplant. When she was 2, her mother gave her a kidney.

She hopes to keep this one for at least as long.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3431.

Tampa woman's Facebook reunion leads to kidney transplant 06/16/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 16, 2012 9:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs running back's gamble pays off for his mom

    Bucs

    TAMPA — When Peyton Barber decided to leave Auburn after his sophomore year, with only one season as a starting running back, it was a risky decision, one he hoped would let him help out his family back home in suburban Atlanta.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber (43) takes the field with an American flag before a preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Officials say Trump's Afghan plan involves 3,900 more troops

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's plan to end the stalemate in America's longest war and eliminate Afghanistan's rising extremist threat involves sending up to 3,900 additional U.S. forces, senior officials said Tuesday. The first deployments could take place within days.

    President Donald Trump speaks at Fort Myer in Arlington Va., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, during a Presidential Address to the Nation about a strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan. [Associated Press]
  3. 'Cavern' closes westbound lanes on E Fletcher Avenue in Hillsborough County

    Roads

    Westbound lanes of E Fletcher Avenue are closed near the Hillsborough River to repair what the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office terms a "cavern" that formed under the roadway.

  4. Joss Whedon's ex-wife accuses him of cheating, being 'hypocrite preaching feminist ideals'

    Celebrities

    Joss Whedon made his name directing cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and big-budget action movies, which often featured women in empowering roles. Many applauded him for being a champion of women, a feminist in an industry accused of misogyny and sexism.

    Joss Whedon at the screening of "Much Ado About Nothing" in 2014. Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole alleged in an essay published by The Wrap on Sunday that Whedon had multiple affairs during their 16-year marriage. (Associated Press)
  5. Pasco school's parents, principal seek compromise on behavior plan

    Blogs

    Leaders of a Pasco County elementary school that has come under criticism for its new behavior plan have offered an alternative model that sticks to its goals while also better considering younger children who might not understand the original terminology.

    This is the original chart that upset parents with wording such as "anarchy" and "conform to peer pressure" without any context.