Sunday, June 24, 2018
Health

Tampa woman's Facebook reunion leads to kidney transplant

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 [email protected] or (813) 226-3431.

Comments
ScART program empowers people to explore their scars and express their feelings through art

ScART program empowers people to explore their scars and express their feelings through art

ST. PETERSBURGShyly, 8-year-old Annabelle Brassfield climbed atop a stool in front of a blank easel, grabbed a brush she named Scarlet and prepared to paint her scars. After three open heart surgeries for a severe congenital heart defect, she’s left ...
Published: 06/22/18
Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

By Katie WorkmanIsraeli or Mediterranean couscous are tiny balls of toasted semolina pasta that plump up when cooked into toothsome, slightly less tiny balls of pasta. They make a great base for a side or salad. You can make the couscous according to...
Published: 06/22/18
‘BE AWARE’: Pasco mom posts to Facebook after son’s caterpillar sting leads to ER trip

‘BE AWARE’: Pasco mom posts to Facebook after son’s caterpillar sting leads to ER trip

ZEPHYRHILLS — The Pergolas’ Saturday morning volunteer work started like most, at a farm cleaning the property and trimming trees. Andrea Pergola, 38, stood on the driveway of the property when she heard her 15-year-old son Logan scream. At first, sh...
Published: 06/20/18
Moffitt receives $1 million donation from Richard Gonzmart

Moffitt receives $1 million donation from Richard Gonzmart

TAMPA — Runners gathered for the Gonzmart’s Father’s Day Walk and Jog where they raise money to help aid in Moffitt Cancer Center’s fight against prostate cancer. This year the event raised $110,000, but Moffitt had another surprise in store.Andrea G...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing. In its latest revision to a disease class...
Published: 06/19/18
Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

The extensive government trial was intended to settle an age-old question about alcohol and diet: Does a daily cocktail or beer really protect against heart attacks and stroke?To find out, the National Institutes of Health gave scientists $100 millio...
Published: 06/16/18
More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults are taking prescription drugs, including hormones for contraception, blood pressure medications and medicines for heartburn, that carry a potential risk of depression, according to a study published in the Journal...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Courtney Bilyeu was running toward the murky water alongside a few military officers when it happened.She was an accountant for the U.S. Navy at the time. And on her way to take a swim with some coworkers in a California beach, she saw blood. The wat...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

The next time you head to the drugstore to buy sunscreen, don’t forget to pick up some sunglasses, too. That’s because both products work to protect your body from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.Wearing sunglasses for protection should not be re...
Published: 06/09/18
In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

ST. PETERSBURG — Kidney disease doesn’t discriminate.The crowd of more than 200 patients who gathered at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort range in age from teenagers to seniors. They are of different ethnicities and come from all over the...
Updated one month ago