Hélène Campbell has a lot of people rooting for her, as she recovers from her lung transplantation. And most have never even met her.
Campbell is the 20-year-old Barrhaven woman who was diagnosed with a degenerative lung condition last year. Her health had been deteriorating, and her usual optimism was starting to flag, when she finally got word of a compatible donor last week. Since the operation on April 6, Campbell's followers have been watching her Twitter account @alungstory, where her parents are posting updates about her status.
It was through Twitter, the website alungstory.ca, stories in the Citizen and other media, and Ellen DeGeneres' television show, that Campbell shared her plea to "be an organ donor." It made a difference. The website that registers donors in Ontario, beadonor.ca, saw a jump in traffic.
The plea wasn't new. The statistics haven't changed. But what pulled people out of their lives and got them to take a few minutes to register online was Campbell's story and her indomitable personality.
There's no shortage of snobbery about social media these days. Yes, the Internet can be trivial and nasty. But it can also be incredibly powerful, and that power can be used for good.
It takes very little time to check your health number at beadonor.ca to confirm that you're registered as a donor – or to register if you never have. Even more importantly, talk to your family to make sure they know your intentions.
Donor registration isn't the only factor that determines how long patients have to wait for transplants. Some of the good things about life in Canada – our health-care system and our relative lack of violence – may decrease the deceaseddonor pool. Our aging society might widen the gap between supply and demand. Co-ordination within the health-care system is essential to match donations with those waiting.
But registration is a big factor too. There are so many things that can go wrong for someone hoping to receive a new organ in time. It's just stupid and cruel to add apathy to that list.