Update: how to find a kidney donor on craigslist

Back in November 2004, I wrote what turned out to be one of the highest-traffic posts on this blog, “Can the blogosphere find a kidney donor?“. I had met a woman, Debbie Diamond, who was looking for a kidney on behalf of her brother, Neil.

Here’s the update directly from Debbie:

“This story has a lot of twist and turns. I cannot believe this and I am still pinching myself! I came to Craig’s List in search of a kidney donor for my brother. I placed ongoing ads for several months and got plenty of replies. Several people went ahead and took the various tests. Though two were matches nothing came to fruition for my brother. But, I am happy to say that my brother did get his transplant, from a source outside of Craig’s List 3 months ago and all is well.

While I was determined to save my brother’s life and find him a kidney donor, I was also helping another person find a donor for herself. Let me go back a few steps to show how much of a Craig’s List story this really is. Ten months ago there was an ad on CL seeking people to work at a great event in NYC. I applied and was hired by the two people conducting the interviews. This man and woman who did the hiring have been good friends for many years. They recognized me from the newspaper regarding my kidney search for my brother. They started to tell me about a friend of theirs who was on dialysis and in dire need of a transplant too. I initiated conversation with this woman via email first. After several emails we spoke on the phone at length. We then met in person, and once acquainted I realized that she did not have many resources on how to go about networking, etc. I told her to post an ad on CL which she did. She called me and said she did not get any replies and asked if I would post ads for her, which I did. While this is going on I am still working hard on finding my brother a match. Keep in mind that when someone goes for testing to see if they are a match, the hospital/transplant center will only see one person at a time. The tests are plenty, time consuming and some are not the most pleasant. So you cannot bombard the hospital with a bunch of people at once. Since I had received so many replies to my ad for my brother, I could not answer all of them at one time. I had to wait to see the outcome of the person being tested prior to scheduling the next individual. I had an email in my inbox from a woman in California. I had not answered her right away as we were waiting for another’s results. Finally, instead of answering her email I decided to forward it to the woman I was trying to help here in NY. The two women were also the same blood type. The women had been in touch and I have been emailing back and forth with the woman from California for several months too. It is now November. This has been in the making for about 5 or 6 months now. Like I said, it is not as easy as a quick test here and there… there are glitches, problems, set backs, re-doing of tests, etc. As I sit here and type this these two women are in a hospital in California; transplant complete!

The truth is that the chances of finding a stranger who is a match for a kidney transplant are slim to none. That is why they always tell you if a family member is a match (usually some family member would be) and can donate, that is the best case scenario. Having said that, it is equally difficult to find someone who does not drop out after starting testing, way before they know if they are a match or not. There are so many reasons that people drop out, and to hang in there with every trial and tribulation, and to take the last step and actually donate your organ, is a deed so great that words cannot even describe.

Most people thought I was crazy to post ads on Craig’s List seeking a donor. They also thought nothing would come through via this medium either. I am so glad I ignored all the doubt and negativity. Imagine if I hadn’t!? Anything can happen, and if nothing happened then we lost nothing, we just remained in the same place. If there is a moral to this, or actually several morals to this story they would be: Follow YOUR gut and not anyone else. The Two Women had The Transplant Too! If you get turned down a thousand times, if nothing happens for a year or more, don’t give up. Keep the focus and keep putting yourself or whatever it is out there. Eventually something will give. Even if it is just more information you never know where it will take you. I certainly did not. I found out though and I am glad I did. Nothing is too out there or to ridiculous for you not to give it a try. The other part of this is how great Craig Newmark and his site is. Craig’s vision did not include this (organ donations) at all. When he started he had no idea his site would become what it had become and that it would spread like wild fire all over the place. I have thanked him personally and have shared emails with Craig, always keeping him up to date regarding these two situations.

Again, thanks to all who were there and supportive, especially Craig and his site. Thank god my brother has a functioning kidney, is off of dialysis and leading a much more normal life because of it. And now a second person was spared more years of dialysis and getting sicker. Last but certainly not least, thanks to the woman in California, the Angel that was sent anonymously to my email inbox. Angels like her are a dying breed today which is sad but I am so grateful I found her!

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